ANOTHER round, another sublime score.
World No. 4 Justin Thomas made it look so easy at the TPC Kuala Lumpur’s West Course as he kicked off his bid for a CIMB Classic crown with a brilliant six-under 66 yesterday.
The American reeled in eight birdies, including four in his five closing holes to trade with two bogeys as he trailed leader Bronson Burgoon by three shots.
The nine-time PGA Tour winner is tied for sixth place with 2012 champion Nick Watney and Kevin Chappel, both from the United States, and Argentinian Emiliano Grillo and South African Louis Oosthuizen.
“It was a good day, but kind of up and down. I got off to a good start and then stalled a little in the middle,” said Thomas, who has averaged 67 per round in the last 12 rounds at the CIMB Classic.
“I didn’t take advantage from a couple of opportunities but found something in the last five holes and was able to make a good round of it today.
“It’s pretty far from my best stuff but scoring a six-under is huge. A round like today can help me win here.”
Thomas is attempting to become the only player in CIMB Classic history to win the event three times. He failed to add a third to his 2015 and 2016 victories after a joint 17th spot last year.
Watney, meanwhile, will be hoping to take advantage of the solid start to try to reclaim the title he last won at the Mines Golf Resort and Country Club six years ago.
Since securing his fifth US PGA Tour win back then, the 37-year-old has failed to add more titles to his name.
He then suffered a career-threatening back injury that sidelined him for almost the entire of 2016.
Watney was delighted to be in contention again in Malaysia.
“It’s always nice to come back somewhere you’ve had success,” he said.
Defending champion Pat Perez got off to a slow start with a two-under 70 – a far cry from his opening 66 last year to be seven shots off the pace. But the 42-year-old remains positive.
“Two-under, not bad,” he said. “I could have made some more, I didn’t putt as well as I did last year obviously. But not bad, not bad. Just getting started again.”
Another former champion in the fray, Ryan Moore, shot 71 for joint 49th.