Thomas falters in CIMB Classic title defence

Annette Crawford
October 12, 2017

Australia's Cameron Smith has soared to the top of the leaderboard in the $US7 million CIMB Classic in Malaysia.

Smith, who broke his duck on the PGA Tour in May at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans alongside Jonas Blixt, made birdies at the third, fourth and fifth and picked up further shots at the seventh and ninth to approach the turn in 31.

Hideki Matsuyama, who passed up the chance to defend his Japan Open title to play in Malaysia this week, is a spot above Thomas in the world rankings and matched his score on Thursday after mixing four birdies with two bogeys. Thomas has thrived under sweltering conditions in Kuala Lumpur in the last two editions to rank No. 4 in the world, but stuttered in his final nine holes after erring with two bogeys.

Repeating his 2016-17 heroics will be a stiff challenge but the co-sanctioned CIMB Classic could offer the ideal platform for another productive season for the world number four.

Smith scored eight birdies to become the solo overnight leader.

"The putting was easy actually", Smith said.

"I have to keep the game-plan pretty much the same really: just be smart off the tee, try to hit the fairways and then really aggressive into the greens".

Tied with Schauffele in second place is Thailand's Poom Saksansin, a 24-year-old two-time Asian Tour victor making his first start in a PGA Tour event.

South Korean Sung Kang, Spaniard Rafa Cabrera-Bello, India's Anirban Lahiri, Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai and the American pair of Brendan Steele and Davis Love III all signed for rounds of 67.

"Obviously got off to a red hot start and then couldn't capitalise on the (higher) scoring part of the golf course", he said. The 78-man, no-cut field is for the top 60 players available from last season's FedExCup (no deeper than No. 125), the top 10 available money leaders from the Asian Tour and eight sponsor exemptions, five of them for PGA Tour players.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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