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Man of the hour Thomas eyes 'threepeat' in Malaysia

13 October 2017

Justin Thomas collected the Jack Nicklaus Award as the U.S. PGA Tour player of the year a couple of days before heading to Malaysia in a bid to win his third successive CIMB Classic.

Kuala Lumpur: Anirban Lahiri got off to a flying start with a five-under 67 in the first round to be at tied eighth in the CIMB Classic at the TPC Kuala Lumpur here on Thursday.

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.

Thomas has barely had time to catch his breath after winning the FedEx Cup and playing in the Presidents Cup.

Poom Saksansin hopes to be the first player since Jim Benepe in 1988 to win on his PGA tour.

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

Only weeks after capping his brilliant season with the $10 million bonus as FedExCup champion, Justin Thomas heads back to his happy hunting ground at the CIMB Classic, seeking a "threepeat" of titles in Malaysia. "I hope that this momentum will last until the end", she said.

Australian Cameron Smith, ranked number 151 in the world, took the lead with a sparkling eight-under-par 64. "I tried to copy everything [Justin] did as I figured he's a good guy to imitate out here".

World number three Matsuyama will likely be the 24-year-old's main rival again at the event this year, and could push him to the limit in the sweltering tropical conditions.

The shotmaker from Bacolod fired two birdies against three bogeys and stood nine strokes off the pace in the US$7 million event (P360 million).

"The putting was easy actually", Smith said.

The American trio of Kevin Na, Gary Woodland, and Pat Perez were also in contention in the Asian Tour event after carding 66s.

Man of the hour Thomas eyes 'threepeat' in Malaysia