Thomas grabs share of lead at CIMB Clas­sic

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

JUSTIN THOMAS en­joyed a wel­come re­turn to Kuala Lumpur yes­ter­day when the Amer­i­can kicked off the de­fence of his CIMB Clas­sic ti­tle by surg­ing into a share of the lead at the US$7 mil­lion (RM29.28M) co-sanc­tioned event.

Thomas, who claimed his one and only PGA Tour ti­tle at the TPC Kuala Lumpur course last year when he edged out Adam Scott by a stroke, tal­lied nine birdies and a lone bo­gey in his first round this time to sign for an eight-un­der-par 64.

“It was a good day, it was solid. If there’s any such thing as an easy eight un­der, that was it,” Thomas said in a post-round in­ter­view.

Derek Fathauer, who was bo­gey-free for his round, and Kee­gan Bradley matched Thomas’s to­tal to move top of the leader­board as the Amer­i­can trio opened a one-shot ad­van­tage over in-form English­man Paul Casey in the sec­ond event on the 2017 PGA Tour. Anir­ban Lahiri sits alone in fifth place after bo­geys on his last two holes pre­vented the In­dian from grab­bing a share of the lead, one clear of a quar­tet of play­ers that in­cludes Sergio Gar­cia and Bren­dan Steele, who won last week’s Safe­way Open. Thomas made a fast start with three birdies in five holes but a bo­gey on the par-four sixth stalled his progress and two more pars left the 23-year-old strug­gling for mo­men­tum as he ap­proached the ninth tee on two-un­der for his round. After find­ing the mid­dle of the fair­way with his drive, a pin­point ap­proach shot to within five feet set up the first of six birdies in eight holes as he reac­quainted him­self with a course on which he seems to thrive. “I just kind of went along with my busi­ness today,” Thomas added. “I hit it real close and made a few putts, it was a pretty low-stress day. “It was fun, I haven’t had the op­por­tu­nity to de­fend be­fore so it’s fun to be back and peo­ple know who I am. Hope­fully an ex­pe­ri­ence I will get to feel a lot.” Amer­i­can Pa­trick Reed (68) and Spa­niard Rafa Cabr­era Bello (69), who faced each other at the re­cent Ry­der Cup, made solid starts while Ian Poul­ter, vice­capt ai n o f the de­feated Euro­pean team, con­tin­ued his re­turn from in­jury with a one-un­der-par 71. The event is co-sanc­tioned by the Asian Tour. – Reuters

AFPPIX

Justin Thomas tees off on the 11th hole dur­ing the first round of 2016 CIMB Clas­sic golf tour­na­ment in Kuala Lumpur yes­ter­day. –

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