The Englishman opened up a two-shot lead over highly rated Arnond Vongvanij of Thailand, who returned with a 67 at the US$750,000 Asian Tour event staged at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club.
Veteran Boonchu Ruangkit of Thailand, former Asian Tour number one Jyoti Randhawa of India, Shiv Kapur, Lee Sung of Korea, Zaw Moe of Myanmar and Sam Cyr of the United States were bunched up in tied third place on matching 68s.
A rejuvenated Westwood, who took a week’s break from his third place finish at the Masters, birdied the opening three holes before turning in 31 and adding three birdies and one bogey on his homeward nine.
“I had a break last week and hardly hit any balls. I played a lot of golf earlier this year and needed a rest. It was good to go home and recharge my batteries because the Masters always takes a lot out of you. It is physically and mentally very demanding,” said the world number three golfer.
It was a wind-swept day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club and Westwood was caught off guard on the 14th hole where he dropped his second bogey of the day.
“This is quite a tricky test because the greens are very undulating. You got to have your “A-Game” with you. It (wind direction) changed on 14 and it caught me by surprise and ended up with a bogey where I three putted,” said the Englishman, who rose to the world number one position with his victory in this tournament last year.
Asian Tour rookie Arnond, who has two top-10 finishes this year, continued to impress and credited his straight shooting game for his flawless scorecard.
“I’m happy but not surprised. I feel that my game in the last couple of weeks have been really close to where I want it. I hit my driver fairly straight and didn’t get into too much trouble,” said the 23-year-old.
Korea’s Lee, who was born with a hearing impairment but had an implant surgically put into his right ear in 2010 to help him hear, missed only one fairway in a round of five birdies against one bogey.
“My driver was excellent. I missed only one fairway. If you get your tee shots going here, you can have a chance of attacking the greens. All my birdies were quite close today,” said Lee, who has won once on the Asian Tour in 2007.
Kapur, the Asian Tour rookie in 2005, birdied three of his closing five holes to trail first round leader Westwood by three shots.
“I played pretty well. It was one of those rounds where I could have gone really low. I just didn’t hole enough putts. I hit a lot of fairways and greens and kept burning the edges. I was kind of rewarded with my patience,” said Kapur.
“I like the course. It is one of those courses where there’s a big premium of hitting fairways. You have to hit quality iron shots here. Iron play is kind of my strength so it worked pretty well for me,” he added.
Matthew Rosenfeld of the United States will finish his first round on Friday morning as darkness fell at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club.
65 - Lee Westwood (ENG).
67 - Arnond Vongvanij (THA).
68 - Lee Sung (KOR), Boonchu Ruangkit (THA), Zaw Moe (MYN), Jyoti Randhawa (IND), Sam Cyr (USA), Shiv Kapur (IND).
69 - Park Hyun-bin (KOR), Berry Henson (USA), Thitiphun Chuayprakong (THA), Masanori Kobayashi (JPN), Angelo Que (PHI), Rick Kulacz (AUS).
70 - Bernd Wiesberger (AUT), Marcus Both (AUS), Mithun Perera (SRI), Javi Colomo (ESP), Koh Deng Shan (SIN), Antonio Lascuna (PHI), Ajeetesh Sandhu (IND), Pawin Ingkhapradit (THA).
71 - Elmer Salvador (PHI), Siddikur (BAN), Wade Ormsby (AUS), Thanyakon Khrongpha (THA).
By Indian Sports News Network