Smith on top in Malaysia

Smith on top in Malaysia

Australian Cameron Smith's blemish-free eight-under-par 64 catapulted him to the top of the leaderboard after the opening round of the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur.

Thomas has barely had time to pause for breath after a frenetic finish to the campaign and will take a proper break only after playing next week's CJ Cup, South Korea's first PGA Tour-sanctioned event.

Poom Saksansin and American pair Xander Schauffele and Keegan Bradley are breathing down Smith's neck in the event, which is the first of three on the PGA Tour to be held in Asia in successive weeks.

Brendan Steele, coming off a victory last week at the Safeway Open, had an opening 67 to be three shots off the lead.

Matsuyama, 25, has been on good form with six titles around the world, including two World Golf Championships tournaments, over the past year.

Notes: Justin Thomas begins his new season one week after he was voted PGA Tour player of the year.

Schauffele, the US tour rookie of the year, said he was taking plenty of notice of how Thomas approaches this course and is trying to keep it simple.

Thomas mixed five birdies with three bogeys.

"It's going to be a little bit different this year, just in terms of everything that's happened and kind of the lack of preparation I'll probably get as opposed to years prior", Thomas said last week.

With four birdies in first five holes and seven in his first nine, Lahiri looked set for a real low number.

"The putting was easy actually", Smith said.

The 23-year-old Californian, this year's PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, picked up another five shots over the remaining 15 holes and suggested his error-free 65 had been as much the result of avoiding the lush tropical rough as anything.

Hideki Matsuyama, the 2016 runner-up, faltered with two bogeys to sit with Thomas in a tie for 23rd place.

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