Schwartzel arrived in Kuala Lumpur after a 30-hour trip from Augusta, Ga., where on Sunday he helped Bubba Watson into his green jacket as Masters champion. That duty fell to Schwartzel because he won the Masters in 2011.
He made the long trip to Malaysia where he was paired with Louis Oosthuizen, who lost to Watson in a playoff Sunday. While Schwartzel shot 64 Thursday, Oosthuizen had a 6-under 66, which was tied for third.
Schwartzel started on the second nine of the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club and had three birdies in his first five holes. He had a bogey at 15 but got that stroke back at the 17th hole and made the turn at 3-under.
He knocked his second shot at No. 1 within 3 feet for a short birdie and had consecutive birdies over Nos. 3-5. A birdie at the seventh hole got him to 8-under.