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Thomas falters in CIMB Classic title defence

Thomas falters in CIMB Classic title defence”

BC-GLF-CIMB Classic, 107 Thomas begins defense of CIMB Classic 6 shots behind leaderEds: Will be updatedJustin Thomas has made a rocky start in his bid to win a third successive CIMB Classic after managing only a 2-under-par 70 to sit six strokes behind leader Cameron Smith in Kuala Lumpur.

Australia's Cameron Smith has soared to the top of the leaderboard in the $US7 million CIMB Classic in Malaysia.

Smith, who won his first PGA title at the Zurich Classic team event in May, picked up five shots on the way out and three more over the last five holes to stand a shot clear of Thai Poom Saksansin and Americans Xander Schauffele and Keegan Bradley.

Thomas, who is attempting to become the first player to win the same event in three straight yeas since Steve Stricker at the John Deere Classic (2009-'11), made five birdies offset by three bogeys, including two on his back nine, to sit in a tie for 23rd in the 78-player field.

But the American, who started on the 10th, faltered after his promising start and hit three bogeys, leaving him to play catch-up against Smith.

Repeating his 2016-17 heroics will be a stiff challenge but the co-sanctioned CIMB Classic could offer the flawless platform for another productive season for the world number four.

"Same plan tomorrow. Really smart off the tee and just try and get in the fairway and then really aggressive into the greens and obviously hole some putts".

Tied with Schauffele in second place is Thailand's Poom Saksansin, a 24-year-old two-time Asian Tour victor making his first start in a PGA Tour event.

India's Lahiri, in tied eighth place with a five-under 67, said he was "a little disappointed".

The golfers could be in for a tough day Friday, with thunderstorms set to descend on Kuala Lumpur.

Thomas has barely had time to pause for breath after a frenetic finish to the campaign and will take a proper break only after playing next week's CJ Cup, South Korea's first PGA Tour-sanctioned event.



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