Australia's Dodt takes lead in Malaysia golf

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Kuala Lumpur (AFP)

Australia's Andrew Dodt fired a nine-under-par 63 on Thursday to take the lead in the opening round of the Malaysia Open, while Japan's Naoki Sekito was in second place two shots back.

Taiwan's Chang Wei-lun was among a host of golfers sharing third place on 66, along with Sweden's Bjorn Hellgren, and Thai duo Pavit Tangkamolprasert and Phachara Khongwatmai.

But it was the three-time Asian Tour winner Dodt who surged into the lead, courtesy of his seven birdies and an eagle.

"I managed to birdie the first two holes, and I was away," said Dodt.

"It felt quite simple, hit a lot of fairways, hit a lot of greens and holed a lot of putts."

Sekito was happy with his 65 after returning from a month off.

"It was nice to come back and get off to a good start. You need to keep the ball in play to give yourself birdie chances out there," he said.

It was a disappointing start for South Korean rising star Kim Joo-hyung, who ended the day tied-20th after firing a 69.

The 17-year-old is touted one of the favourites to win at the Kota Permai Golf and Country Club, after good performances at the Singapore and New Zealand opens.

This $1.0 million Asian Tour event is making a return following a four-year absence, even as many sporting events are cancelled worldwide due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Organisers have taken precautions such as temperature checks for players and spectators.