Holman holds slender lead in Malaysia

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Nathan Holman leads the inaugural Maybank Championship Malaysia after carding a seven-under opening round of 64 on Thursday, but the in-form Danny Willett is one of six players just a shot off the pace.

Holman won his maiden European Tour title when he was crowned Australian PGA Championship in his homeland two months ago and has followed that up with top-40 finishes on the Desert Swing.

The 24-year-old from Melbourne again showed what he is capable of at the Royal Selangor Golf Club, starting the tournament - which is co-sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours - with a blemish-free round.

Holman started with a birdie on the 10th and reeled off another three in a row from the 13th to hit the turn in 32, with further gains at the third, fifth and ninth ensuring he set the pace.

Willett arrived in Kuala Lumpur brimming with confidence on the back of the biggest win of his career in Dubai and the Englishman is well poised to challenge for another title this week.

Ryder Cup and Olympic Games hopeful Willett was victorious in the Dubai Desert Classic this month and recovered from bogeying the second hole to shoot a six-under 65.

Gains at the eighth and ninth put Willett under par after an indifferent start and he turned on the style by chipping in for an eagle at the 13th before a further three gains put him joint-second.

Angelo Que matched Willett's opening round and the Filipino would have held a share of the lead but for his only bogey at the 16th.

Alexander Levy made an encouraging start, but was left to rue dropping a shot at the 18th to also miss out on joining Holman at the top of the leaderboard heading into the second round.

Peter Uihlein picked up six shots between the 11th and 16th, but had to settle for a 65 which was also matched by Tommy Fleetwood and Jorge Campillo.

Major winners Louis Oosthuizen and Martin Kaymer had to settle for four under and level par respectively, while David Horsey retired from the tournament after nine holes and will undergo knee surgery which will keep him out until April.