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Asian Tour's Karlberg leads CIMB Classic in Malaysia

Karlberg upstaged his illustrious PGA Tour counterparts by firing a bogey-free, seven-under-par 65 to lead the co-sanctioned CIMB Classic after Thursday's first round.

Updated:October 30, 2014, 5:11 PM IST
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Asian Tour's Karlberg leads CIMB Classic in Malaysia
Karlberg upstaged his illustrious PGA Tour counterparts by firing a bogey-free, seven-under-par 65 to lead the co-sanctioned CIMB Classic after Thursday's first round.

Asian Tour member Rikard Karlberg upstaged his illustrious PGA Tour counterparts by firing a bogey-free, seven-under-par 65 to lead the co-sanctioned CIMB Classic after Thursday's first round.

The Swede is one of 10 Asian Tour players in the 78-man field at the $7 million tournament and becomes the first from the Tour to lead the event in its five-year existence.

Another Asian Tour member, Filipino Angelo Que, was in a tie for second alongside American duo Billy Hurley III and Brian Stuard two shots back after shooting 65s.

Former US PGA Champion Davis Love III, boosted by holing a 20-foot eagle putt at the par five 10th, was on four-under along with past champion Ryan Moore.

World number four Sergio Garcia of Spain is the best ranked player in the field and he fired a three-under 69 to sit in a large group tied for 13th which includes Japan's Ryo Ishikawa.

Thursday's action at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club was interrupted by a weather delay but the heavy rain was only a small obstacle for Karlberg, who has had numerous challenges this year.

The Swede has been hampered for over a year with a virus as he battles the demands of playing on two circuits.

"There has been a lot of things going on. Trying to combine both European Tour and Asian Tour, flying back and forward and getting sick because of the virus infection I suffered from the whole year where I get the flu symptoms," he told reporters.

"That gets you a little bit stressed out and I realised that I can't really do anything about it. Just try to eat as good as I can, at least that's what the doctors say."

Karlberg reached the turn in five-under 31 after chipping in for birdie on the par-3 eighth and then sinking a 10-foot putt to pick up another shot at the par four ninth.

Seven straight pars followed before the Swede, twice a winner on the Asian Tour in 2010, rolled in two more birdies to finish.

"My putting was great after a hot start then it was a little bit so-so. I kept it going and it was nice to finish with those two extra ones at the end," said Karlberg, who is ranked eighth on the Order of Merit.

A win for any of the Asian Tour players this week will grant them a two-year playing exemption on the PGA Tour.

Former world number one Lee Westwood, who won the European Tour's Malaysian Open on this course in April, could only manage a level par 72 for a share of 39th with reigning FedEx Cup winner Billy Horschel.

Major winners Charl Schwartzel, Jason Dufner, Stewart Cink, Retief Goosen and Trevor Immelman all endured a difficult day and could only manage 74s, a score matched by the leading two on the Asian Tour Order of Merit list, David Lipsky and Anirban Lahiri.

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