Published: Fri, October 13, 2017
Sports | By Nelson Rowe

Golf roundup: Thomas off to slow start

Golf roundup: Thomas off to slow start

Thomas clinched his maiden PGA Tour title at the 2015 CIMB Classic with a 26-under-par 262, and triumphed against a tough challenge from Japan's Hideki Matsuyama to win in 2016.

Justin Thomas said Wednesday he hoped to ride a wave of recent success to the "unbelievable achievement" of a third victory in a row at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia.

Xander Schauffele has only had two weeks off since winning the Tour Championship, and his Rookie of the Year trophy hasn't even had a chance to start collecting dust yet. It left him one shot behind leader Cameron Smith and tied for second alongside Keegan Bradley and Poom Saksansin.

One shot behind Smith are Thailand's Poom Saksansin, American Keegan Bradley and freshly crowned Tour Championship victor Xander Schauffele, also from the US. He successfully defended it previous year, and has had a transformative 2017 in which he's won five titles and his first major, the U.S. Open. The Spaniard, who made it through three legs of the FEC Playoffs, started his birdie count with red numbers at 2, 3 and 5 although he swallowed a bogey at 4 during that run.

Smith, an Australian, posted a blemish-free round of eight birdies, including five on the front nine for a 64.

Smith, 24, victor along with Jonas Blixt at last April's Zurich Classic of New Orleans, made eight birdies in his first start of the new tour season.

Three players are tied for fifth with 66s: Kevin Na, Gary Woodland and Pat Perez.

World number two Park Sung-Hyun fired six birdies to share the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship first-round lead with her fellow South Korean Kim Min-Sun and Australia's Minjee Lee on Thursday.

Cristie Kerr, coming off a victory last week in France, was among those at 67.

Park, who won the U.S. Women's Open this year for her first major and is No. 2 in the world, was playing Thursday in the featured group at Sky 72 Golf & Resort comprising the top three players in the world ranking. The top-ranked So Yeon Ryu opened with a 72, while Lexi Thompson had a 69.

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