Ricky Barnes shot an 8-under 63 Thursday to take the lead after the first round of the inaugural Asia Pacific Classic, the first PGA Tour-sanctioned event in Southeast Asia.
The 40-man tournament at The Mines Resort and Golf Club also is sanctioned by the Asian Tour, and the field includes a mixture of players form both the PGA Tour and the Asian circuit. The winner will receive $1 million from the $6 million purse at the conclusion of the 72-hole, stroke-play event, though the money doesn’t count as official on the PGA Tour money list.
The 29-year-old American, seeking his first professional victory, had what he called a "stress-free" round sprinkled with eight birdies.
"I got off to a good start by making some good swings and had a 10-foot look at eagle on three which kind of got my round started," Barnes said.
Ryan Moore (64) trails by one stroke, while Canadian Open winner Carl Pettersson (65) was two back along with Brian Davis and Charlie Wi.
Moore, who arrived in Malaysia on Friday to acclimatize to the time change and humid weather, had seven birdies. He has earned more than $2 million this season on the PGA Tour but has no victories.
"For me, this is my last chance to get a win and finish off the year the way I want to," the American said. "It was a good season. I feel like it was better than last year, and last year I had a win. That's what I'm coming here for. It's my last tournament of the year."
The leading Asian Tour players all posted 66s. They included Thongchai Jaidee and Pariya Junhasavasdikul of Thailand and Mardan Mamat of Singapore. Also in at 66 was PGA Tour regular Martin Laird of Scotland.
South African star Ernie Els finished at 4 under 67, along with England’s Luke Donald. South Africa’s Retief Goosen and Australian Adam Scott carded 69s.
“Golf is a global game now. People want to see the U.S. players playing in Malaysia, China or Japan,” said Donald, the world No. 8. “New events like this tend to increase fan support for the game and create awareness that there are great places around the world to play golf in.”