Thomas hopes for CIMB Classic hat-trick

Thomas was beaten 3&1 by Hideki Matsuyama in the Sunday singles

Thomas was beaten 3&1 by Hideki Matsuyama in the Sunday singles

The 67 on Thursday marked the 11th time he scored 70 or under in last 13 rounds at the TPC Kuala Lumpur.

Lahiri, third a year ago at the same event, is coming of a tied-9th finish in the last start on the PGA Tour in the BMW Champion- ships, the third leg of the FedExCup play-offs.

Davis Love III also threatened the grip of the twenty somethings at the top of the leaderboard with five straight birdies from the second but the 53-year-old stumbled on the back nine and finished tied for eighth after a 67. It's the first time that the Australian has ever held either a share or the outright lead in a tour event after the opening 18 holes.

The 23-year-old Californian, PGA Tour rookie of the year for 2017, picked up another five shots over the remaining 15 holes and suggested his error-free 65 had been as much the result of avoiding the lush tropical rough as anything.

"It was boring, which I guess is a good thing out here". I holed a lot of putts today. "This is a big event but there is no cut so I'm only feeling 50 per cent pressure".

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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.

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. The former PGA Championship victor has a history for fast starts at the CIMB Classic, having shot no worse than 66 in the first round in his four appearances in Malaysia.

"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.

Three players are tied for fifth with 66s: Kevin Na, Gary Woodland and Pat Perez.

Last week: Brendan Steele won the Safeway Open.

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