The first round of the inaugural Maybank Championship began under sunny skies and hot conditions, but the weather turned cloudy and grey in the afternoon leading to a significant delay in play. Fifty-four players completed their first round before lighting in the area suspended play at 1:53 p.m. on Thursday. The first round resumed at 5:41 p.m. and was completed just before the sun set in Malaysia.
Teeing off in the first group of the day off 10 tee, Thailand’s Jasmine Suwannapura took the lead well before afternoon storms suspended play. The two-time LPGA Tour winner shot a new career-low score of 63 at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club, recording seven birdies and an eagle in her 9-under, bogey-free round.
“Starting, you know, first couple holes I try to play kind of little safe, on safe side, because I only play six holes for the practice round and get to walk on the back nine on pro-am day on the cart path, so I don't really know the course,” Suwannapura said. “I feel like with low expectation today then the result come out really good. A lot of putts drop for me, and it's good feeling to start with a low score this week for sure.”
Starting on the back nine, Suwannapura took the lead early on Thursday after going birdie, eagle, birdie on holes 13-15. She was one of just four players in the field to eagle the drivable par-4 No. 14, taking full advantage of the hole early on. She added another birdie just before the turn on No. 18 to go out in 31 and 5-under. More birdies came on 1, 3 and 5 and she closed out the round with a final birdie on nine to take the clubhouse lead as early as possible. Suwannapura found every fairway on Thursday and nearly every green, which contributed to her success and earned the Thai her third first-round lead or co-lead of her LPGA Tour career.
“I feel like you really need to hit straight here. Every single shot, even par-5, it's either go for it or layup. It's very narrow so everything have to be perfect here to have a chance to make birdies here,” she said. “So that's very challenging for me. I just think I don't have any expectation, and even though it's narrow for me and everyone, I just aim it there and just hit it there and just keep playing.”
Australia’s Hannah Green finished her round 8-under and solo second just before lightning threats suspended play at 1:53 p.m. A last birdie on No. 18 set Green just ahead of a pack of five players at 7-under.
Sweden’s Linn Grant waited nearly four hours to join the group at 7-under, but she did so with a final birdie on 18 that made the most of the delay.