One shot behind Rai in tied 15th place were Shiv Kapur and Rashid Khan, winner of last week's event in Chiangmai, while Chiragh Kumar, Jyoti Randhawa and Arjun Atwal carded even par 72 each and were placed tied 45th.

Rahil Gangjee (73) was tied 53rd as was Daniel Chopra (73) and Jeev Milkha Singh (76) was tied 103rd.

Singapore's veteran Mardan Mamat and Daisuke Kataoka of Japan overcame windy conditions to post seven-under-par 65s and share the first round lead.

"I'm happy with the way I played. Tee to green, I kept the ball in play and kept to my strategy. I'm feeling good overall, I putted well as well and really enjoyed it out there. I guess that's what it's all about, enjoying my game. I think it's all about not playing much in the off-season and then coming out a bit rusty," Himmat Rai said.

"I worked a fair bit before the season started, got a lot fitter and started hitting the gym harder with my trainer. Getting stronger and hitting the ball better. That's how golf is, you just need to get it together at one point," he added.

The 47-year-old Mardan, a three-time Asian Tour winner, was rock solid at the Manila Southwoods Golf and Country Club, hitting all but one green in regulation which yielded eight birdies against a lone bogey.

Kataoka, 26, needed only 25 putts in his seven-birdie round as he put himself in contention for a maiden Asian Tour victory in what is the richest golf tournament in Philippines.

Reigning Asian Tour number one Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand and seasoned Malaysian campaigner Danny Chia carded 66s.

Title holder Liang Wen-chong of China birdied two of his last three holes to salvage a 71 while last year's runner-up Prom Meesawat of Thailand, the highest ranked player in the field, settled for a 73.

Languishing in 74th position on the Order of Merit, Mardan, winner of the 2012 Philippine Open, was delighted with his ball striking in tough afternoon conditions.

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