Kuala Lumpur: Jeev Milkha Singh, who returned to action after a forced break of two weeks, opened with a creditable 69 to be tied 19th in the opening round of the USD 6.1 million CIMB Asia Pacific Classic golf.
However, the other Indian in the tournament, SSP Chowrasia faltered with a four-over 75 that placed him at 48th in a field of 48 here at the MINES Resort & Golf club.
Meanwhile, Australian Robert Allenby set the course ablaze with a blistering eight-under 63. His card matched the course record.
US Tour players dominated the opening day and Allenby playing in the morning when conditions were best made good use of it. He carded eight birdies in a bogey-free round that gave him a one-stroke lead over Jhonattan Vegas (64) and two better than Fredrik Jacobson of Sweden (65).
Among leading Asian Tour players were Thongchai Jaidee and Mohammed Siddikur, who shot 68 each and were tied 12th.
Jeev, who played a steady round with three birdies against one bogey in his 69, said, "I made one bogey and three birdies. Could have made a lot more. Just a few loose shots out there, otherwise I kept my head on. I`ll take a two under especially after a two-week break.
"My back is still not 100 per cent. I need to release the club more as I`m still holding back with the club. I feel as the weeks go by, it`ll get better."
Stating that he had to spend more time than usual to get ready, "I got a lot of work done with the physios yesterday. That helped. I think I need more work to maintain or get better with the way it is right now."
The Indian golfer admitted that the course afforded good scores and was not surprised at Allenby shooting a 63.
"The course was there to be taken. It all comes down to good putting, staying hydrated and keeping focused in this weather. The course is in excellent condition. That was a fantastic round, eight under. Three more days and guys will be very aggressive. With no cut, you`ll just go out and make the most out of it."
On the issue of there being no cut in the tournament and whether it changes the strategy, Jeev said, "I basically went out there and followed my process and routine. Where I needed a three wood, I went with a three wood and where I needed a driver, I went with a driver. Under par is very good and I`ll try to improve from there."
Asian Tour Order of merit leader, Chowrasia, fresh from a top-10 in the Hero Indian Open, had a tough time. He had just one birdie and had to wait till the par-3 17th hole for it. He had five bogeys, three on the front nine.
Behind Allenby, Vegas and Jacobson, there was a three-way tie for fourth place as Cameron Tringale, Jimmy Walker and Bo Van Pelt all shot 5-under 66s on the par-71 Robert Trent Jones Jr. layout.
Malaysia`s two players in the 48-strong field, Danny Chia and Shaaban Hussin, emerged with mixed fortunes.
Chia finished at even-par 71, while Shaaban was 1-over for the round.
The first round started in excellent conditions, then endured a short rainy spell midway through the day, before finishing in nice sunny weather. Then it rained rather heavier shortly after play was concluded.
The four-time PGA Tour winner Allenby said: "I`m obviously very happy with the way I played. I made a lot of nice putts and hit the ball really well all day. I had just one wayward tee shot, at the last, but I made a good par save, so overall I`m really happy with my golf."
Vegas, who came into the tournament full of confidence, having posted a victory in his rookie season and completed his round with four straight birdies from the 15th hole, said: "I had a really good round and I felt like I hit a lot of good putts as well. Hopefully we can keep that going for the next three days and lift the trophy on Sunday."