KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Scott Piercy allied some crisp putting to solid tee-to-green play and shot a flawless 10-under 62 on Thursday to take a three-stroke lead after the first round of the PGA Tour’s CIMB Classic.
The American made 10 birdies at the Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club to pull away from Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, who had eight birdies and a bogey in his 65.
Piercy’s 10-under score matched the tournament record set by Nick Watney, who had a 61 at the par-71 Mines Resort and Golf Club in 2012.
Jason Gore was tied for third on 66 with American compatriots Keagan Bradley and Charles Howell III plus Germany’s Alex Cejka and Cameron Smith of Australia. Eight players shared eighth place on 67, including last year’s runner up Kevin Na.
Two-time defending champion Ryan Moore was again in contention, tied for seventh with seven others on five-under 67.
Adam Scott was tied for 16th on 68 in a group of 10 players including Padraig Harrington and Scott Brown, who made up for an earlier double bogey by sinking a hole-in-one on the par-3 15th and winning a BMW sports car as reward.
Piercy’s 10-under was his lowest round since a closing 61 at the Phoenix Open two years ago.
The Las Vegas native, who turns 37 next week, started brightly with birdies on the first three holes and also finished well with birdies on 17 and 18.
Piercy began the new PGA season with a tie for 25th at the Shriners Hospitals for Children, and blamed bad putting for disguising a game he otherwise felt “was in a good spot.”
“I made the putts I didn’t last week and got a little lucky as well,” Piercy said.
One of the “lucky” holes was the par-4 13th, where his approach shot dropped ten feet below the green, but he managed to chip in for birdie.
“It was good fortune, a good break and it was nice to see the ball go in,” said Piercy, who has three PGA Tour victories, including the Barbasol Championship in July and the 2012 RBC Canadian Open.
“I only missed three or four greens today so if you got 14 chances, you’re doing pretty good.”
Matsuyama said he aimed to get plenty of rest ahead of another round Friday in the draining tropical heat.
“In this weather, you can’t beat yourself too much. I’ll practice a little bit and head back to the hotel,” said the 23-year-old Japanese.
“I hit my driver really well today and that was the reason for my low score. This is my third time here and I love the course. Playing the last couple of years prepared me for that.”
Former world No. 1 Scott was satisfied with his 68 and being in a good position to challenge for the lead in the coming days.
The Australian, now 16th in the world, had an eagle on the par-5 5th but also bogeys at 7 and 12.
“The greens are rolling so you could really make some putts and I should have done better but overall, I’m happy,” Scott said.
“We have to hit good shots as there are some trick lies and you have to play solid. You need to play good shots to get a good score.”
Brantford, Ont.’s David Hearn carded a 70 and has a share of 33rd, while Abbotsford, B.C.’s Nick Taylor had a 74 to sit T72.