Lee shoots 60 to lead
Thailand - World No 3 Lee Westwood flirted with membership of golf's exclusive 59 club when he produced a sparkling 12-under-par round of 60 to open up a big lead in the Thailand Golf Championships on Thursday.
The former world number one led controversial American John Daly by five shots at the Amata Spring Country Club, 80-kilometres east of Bangkok, after his spectacular opening round at the Asian Tour's season ending event.
The 12-under-par total, a professional best for Westwood according to his management company, matched Liang Wenchong's Asian Tour record for lowest 18-hole score set in 2008 at the Indian Open.
Westwood began in scintillating form with four birdies and an eagle to get to six under after five holes. Another birdie came at the par five seventh as he went out in 29 at the inaugural $1 million event.
The Briton rolled in a 10-foot putt on the 13th to complete a hat-trick of birdies as murmurs of a possible 59 alerted the Thai crowds who flocked to watch.
Westwood then left his birdie effort inches short on the par-four 14th before a two-putt birdie on the par five next left him within sight of the record.
The 38-year-old narrowly missed 12ft birdie putts on the 16th and par-three island green 17th to all but end his bid for golf's magic number. However, he finished strongly by holing a similar length putt for birdie at the 477-yard 18th.
Westwood's headline efforts were a boost to organisers who were hit by the withdrawal of US Open champion Rory McIlroy because of a viral illness last week.
Thailand's Thaworn Wiratchant was tied third after firing a four-under 68 to sit alongside France's Gregory Bourdy. US mMasters champion Charl Schwartzel was tied fifth after the South African shot a 69.
Leading scores from the $1 million Thailand Golf Championship at par-72 Amata Spring Country Club on Thursday:
60 - Lee Westwood (ENG)
65 - John Daly (USA)
68 - Gregory Bourdy (FRA), Thaworn Wiratchant (THA)
69 - Lu Chien-soon (TPE), Charl Schwartzel (RSA), Michael Thompson (USA), Kodai Ichihara (JAP), Antonio Lascuna (PHI), Adam Groom (Aus), Jbe Kruger (RSA), Scott Hend (AUS), Chris Rodgers (ENG), Simon Dyson (ENG), Kwanchai Tannin (THA)
70 - Panuwat Muenlek (THA), Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND), Baek Seuk-hyun (KOR), Miles Tunnicliff (ENG), Tommy Fleetwood (ENG), Ryo Ishikawa (JAP), Thongchai Jaidee (THA)
71 - Park Hyun-bin (KOR), Keith Horne (RSA), Mo Joong-kyung (KOR), Jeev Milkha Singh (IND), Prayad Marksaeng (THA), Sattaya Supupramai (THA), Thanyakhon Khrongpa (THA), Ross Bain (SCO), Alex Cejka (GER), Charley Hoffman (USA), Tetsuji Hiratsuka (JAP), Darren Clarke (NIR)
76 - Sergio Garcia (SPA)