Smith on top in KL

Thomas is looking to win the event for a third year in a row

The 2017 FedEx Cup victor and two-time defending champion in Malaysia began his 2017-'18 PGA Tour season with a good-but-not-great two-under 70 at TPC Kuala Lumpur, his second-worst round in the event.

Australian Cameron Smith's blemish-free eight-under-par 64 catapulted him to the top of the leaderboard after the opening round of the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur. He will try to become the first player since Steve Stricker at the John Deere Classic (2009-11) to win the same PGA Tour event three straight years. "It's so hard to win out here and there's so many great players - it would be awesome". Thomas is two-time defending champion. "Today's round was really the first time I've picked up a club since the Presidents Cup, but hopefully I can find my game quickly and somehow make it interesting on Sunday", he said at TPC Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.

"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. "I tried to copy everything (Justin) did as I figured he's a good guy to imitate out here".

While Thomas' puts himself in a tougher spot to start the event, he can feel better knowing he overcame a four-stroke deficit entering the final round a year ago and still won the event.

Poom Saksansin of Thailand is in a three-way share of second on -7 alongside American pair Keegan Bradley and Xander Schauffele, who has continued his impressive form from the runners-up finish at the Tour Championship.

It was his second-worst round in his CIMB Classic career.

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

Schauffele, who edged Thomas by a stroke to win the Tour Championship in Atlanta last month, never looked back after opening with a birdie and then chipping-in from off the green for another at his third hole.

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