Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (SportsNetwork.com) - Lee Westwood carded a 7-under 65 on Thursday to claim a 1-stroke lead before the Maybank Malaysian Open was suspended for darkness.
There was an hour and 18 minute rain delay earlier in the round, causing the eventual suspension at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club.
Westwood, who finished in seventh place at The Masters last week, is a 22-time winner on the European Tour.
"I played well last week in finishing seventh and I was happy to carry that on today," said Westwood. "I'm pleased to get off to a good start. It's nice to have a good one and build some momentum for the week."
Nicolas Colsaerts shot a 6-under 66 to finish alone in second place, while Michael Hoey and Ricardo Santos shared third at 5-under 67.
Jbe Kruger and Julien Quesne also finished their rounds and were tied for fifth at 4-under 68. Masahiro Kawamura and Scott Jamieson were at 4-under through 17 and 16 holes, respectively, and will finish their rounds when play resumes at 7:40 a.m. local time (7:40 p.m. ET) Friday.
Defending champion Kiradech Aphibarnrat carded a 1-under 71 and is tied for 28th place.
Westwood started on the back nine and tripped to a bogey at the 10th, but he didn't drop another shot for the remainder of the day and rolled in birdies at the 12th, 14th and 16th to make the turn at 2-under.
He reached minus-3 with another birdie at the first and after parring the next three holes, the Englishman birdied four of his final five holes to race to the top of the leaderboard prior to play first being suspended for rain.
"I didn't make the best of starts but fortunately that didn't set the tone for the day," Westwood stated. "I hit it really well and hit it close a lot."
Colsaerts also started on the back nine and traded a birdie at the 10th with a bogey at the 11th to remain at even par.
He converted three straight birdies from the 14th to reach 3-under. A bogey at the 17th halted his momentum, but he bounced right back with a birdie at the 18th.
Colsaerts closed his round with birdies at the second, fourth and eighth to move within a shot of the lead.
"I've felt I've played pretty well since early in the season, but there's always been a stretch of holes where I've shot myself in the foot for some reason," said Colsaerts. "I've missed good opportunities to have good weeks. So the plan is to come back here to get some momentum and confidence back."
NOTES: Forty-two players still need to complete their first round ... Westwood won this event in 1997 when it was a part of the co-sanctioning Asian Tour ... Colsaerts' best finish this season was a tie for 19th place at the PGA Tour's Farmers Insurance Open. He has missed two cuts and withdrawn from the Shell Houston Open in his last three starts.