Matteson leads as Woods has late run

 

CIMB CLASSIC:AMERICAN TROY Matteson rounded off four closing birdies by holing a bunker shot to take a one-stroke lead after the opening day of the CIMB Classic in Malaysia.

As Matteson posted his eight-under-par 63 at The Mines, Tiger Woods recorded successive bogeys at the end of the front nine, but then came an inward 31 that brought the 14-time Major champion from eight back to only three behind.

Woods, returning to the course where he and Mark O’Meara won the World Cup in 1999, will resume his pursuit of a fourth win of the season in joint-seventh place.

“Three or four under par was my number on the back nine,” the world number two said after three birdies in the last four.

“If I could shoot that I’m still right in the ball game. I happened to get one more, which was a bonus.

“It’s going to take 20-plus this week to win the tournament, so I’ve got to be aggressive and we’ve got to go get it.”

Matteson, ranked 156th in the world, edged ahead of compatriot Robert Garrigus, Jeff Overton and Brian Harman in the 48-man PGA Tour-sanctioned event.

“The pin is really tricky on 18,” the 32-year-old two-time winner said.

“I knew I’d be doing good if I could leave myself seven or eight feet for par and it bounced and slam-dunked in the hole.

“That’s the first time all year the ball has managed to hit the pin and stay in the hole.”

Scotland’s Martin Laird hit back from an opening bogey to shoot 68, but defending champion Bo Van Pelt, winner of the Perth International last Sunday, had to be content with a 70.

Well over half the field are American Tour stars, but Malaysia’s Danny Chia, Indian Gaganjeet Bhullar and South African Jbe Kruger all matched Woods’ round.

Charging through the field at seven-under after 17 holes Kruger thought the first-round lead was in his sights until the South African realised his approach at the last required an eight-iron.

“I bent my eight-iron on the fourth hole and I had a flier lie, so I couldn’t use a nine-iron on 18. I couldn’t get there. I couldn’t hit a seven-iron. I needed an eight-iron,” Kruger told reporters afterwards.

In the end the 26-year-old South African went with the seven-iron and the uncertainty led to him spoiling a bogey-free round at the $6.1 million event.

“I compensated a little, hit it in the bunker and didn’t hit a very good shot and missed the putt, six (shots),” the diminutive, long-hitting Asian Tour player said.

The double bogey on the par-four meant he signed for an opening round five-under-par 66 which left him three back of Matteson.

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