Cameron Smith of Australia recorded a bogey-free 8-under-par 64 to grab a one-stroke lead over Xander Schauffele, Keegan Bradley and Poom Saksansin of Thailand after the first round of the CIMB Classic on the West Course at TPC Kuala Lumpur in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The 24-year-old Smith collected five birdies on the front nine and holds the lead after one round for the first time in his 64 starts on the U.S. tour.
“My ball striking was really good today,” said Smith, who partnered with Jonas Blixt of Sweden to win the team event at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in April. “And (being from Australia), I’ve played quite a bit in Asia so it was pretty easy for me to read the greens. … The putting was easy, actually.”
Schauffele, the reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year from San Diego coming off his victory in the Tour Championship, collected seven birdies in the first 15 holes of his bogey-free 65, while Saksansin birdied six of his last nine holes and Bradley eagled the third hole before finishing with a birdie at No. 9.
Kevin Na of Diamond Bar eagled the 16th hole en route to a 66 to tie for fifth with Pat Perez of San Diego and Gary Woodland.
Brendan Steele of Idyllwild and UC Riverside, who repeated as champion of the Safeway Open last week, totaled 67 and is tied for eighth with Davis Love III, Anirban Lahiri of India, Phachara Kongwatmai of Thailand, Rafa Cabrera Bello of Spain and Sung Kang of South Korea.
Two-time defending champion Justin Thomas, the reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year who is ranked fourth in the world, carded a 70 and is in a tie for 23rd that includes third-ranked Hideki Matsuyama of Japan.
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