Smith on top in Malaysia

Tim Bradbury

The cherubic Thai created a huge impression in his debut appearance when he fired seven birdies including four on the trot after the turn at the TPC Kuala Lumpur.

Course horse Kevin Na finished with a bogey at the par 5 closer but still managed to shoot his lowest first round at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, a 6-under-par 32-34=66 that left him in T5 and just two behind leader Cameron Smith. The last player to win on the PGA Tour in his first start was Jim Benepe at the 1988 Beatrice Western Open.

Poom Saksansin of Thailand is in a three-way share of second on -7 alongside American pair Keegan Bradley and Xander Schauffele, who has continued his impressive form from the runners-up finish at the Tour Championship.

"My iron shots and putting were good". This is a big event but there is no cut so I'm only feeling 50% pressure.

"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. I always play well in the heat for some reason, I honestly can't tell you why.

Thomas will also be up against a quality field at the PGA Tour's second event in the 2017-18 calendar, including Japan's world number three Hideki Matsuyama, who he pipped for the circuit's player of the year award. "My head's still in the clouds for the most part, and hopefully that will work for me this week".

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