Aussie Smith leads CIMB Classic

Aussie Smith leads CIMB Classic

Justin Thomas said Wednesday he hoped to ride a wave of recent success to the "unbelievable achievement" of a third victory in a row at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia.

The Australian, who came through the Asian Tour Qualifying School in 2014, was one of the revelations that year where he also finished tied-fifth finish at the CIMB Classic.

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

A three-stroke win to defend his championship underlined his pedigree, however, and was the springboard for a stellar campaign featuring five wins, a maiden major title and last month's FedExCup triumph.

This is Poom's first PGA Tour start.

Once known as "Jordan Spieth's friend", the Louisville, Kentucky-born golfer returns to Southeast Asia as the PGA Tour's player of the year and in the wake of an impressive debut for the United States in their dominant Presidents Cup win.

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If Justin Thomas is going to win his third straight CIMB Classic, he's got some work to do.

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.

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). "I pretty much tried to copy everything he did because I figured he's a good guy to imitate out here". Schauffele and Poom made seven birdies to go into early contention, while Bradley eagled the 12th hole to make amends for his sole bogey.

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.

Smith shot an error-free 64 with five birdies on front nine and three on back nine.

"The putting was easy actually", Smith said.

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