The 32-year-old outshone his more illustrious rivals with three birdies on the front nine and five more after the turn and he leads by one shot from Brian Harman, Jeff Overton and Robert Garrigus.
In a field dominated by USA stars, India's Gaganjeet Bhullar signed for a 65 and a share of fifth place with Tom Gillis on -6, while Tiger Woods is one of six players just one shot further back.
The 14-time major winner struggled on the front nine but came home in five-under-par and is right in contention to challenge for his fifth win of the season over the next three days in Kuala Lumpur.
Only two of the US Ryder Cup players are on show this week and Jason Dufner, who finished second in Perth last week, managed a three-under-par 68 for a share of 16th place.
Defending champion Bo Van Pelt, who beat Dufner to win the Perth International last Sunday, could only manage a one-under 70 and is down in joint 30th place in the 48-strong field.