Holman had played just 15 European Tour events coming into the new season, but claimed a maiden win in his homeland at the Australian PGA Championship in December.
The 24 year old took last week off but showed no signs of rust at Royal Selangor Golf Club, racing to seven under par to sit on top a congested leaderboard, one shot ahead of Angelo Que, Tommy Fleetwood, Peter Uihlein, Alex Levy, Jorge Campillo and that man Willett.
Willett climbed to third in The Race to Dubai and 13th in the Official World Golf Ranking following his victory in Dubai a fortnight ago, and he promptly picked up where he left off with a superb 65 which was rounded off with a long putt at the last – one of five birdies for the Ryder Cup hopeful.
The highlight of his round came at the 13th hole, where he made eagle, and after making three more gains in his final five holes Willett had well and truly atoned for a sticky start which saw him play his first seven holes in one over par.
Former Malaysian Open champions Thongchai Jaidee and Louis Oosthuizen also got off to strong starts with respective rounds of 66 and 67.
Marcus Fraser opened with a round of 66 to be the next best of the Australians in a share of 8th position.
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