Defending champion Thomas shares lead at CIMB Classic
Justin Thomas gestures after hitting from the seventh tee of the Silverado Resort North Course during the final round of the Safeway Open PGA golf tournament Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016, in Napa, Calif. At left is Kevin Na. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) Justin Thomas began his title defense with an 8-under 64 at the $7 million CIMB Classic on Thursday, making nine birdies and a bogey to move into a three-way tie with Keegan Bradley and Derek Fathauer for the first-round lead.
Thomas, who won his first PGA Tour title here last year in a tournament-record total 26-under-par 262, said he felt at ease in the opening round of the PGA Tour-sanctioned event.
''If there's such a thing as an easy 8-under, it was,'' Thomas said. ''I wedged it great. I took advantage of the first three par 5s.
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''I was just very comfortable and hit it in there close a couple of times and made a couple putts, but it was a pretty low-stress day.''
Bradley had six birdies on the front nine and an eagle at the par-5 10th but then had two bogeys on his next three holes before recovering with birdies at the 16th and 17th.
England's Paul Casey was one stroke behind the leaders at 7 under, one clear of India's Anirban Lahiri and two ahead of a group of four at 5 under, including Sergio Garcia and Aaron Baddeley.
Ryan Moore, who won the CIMB Classic in 2013 and 2014, opened with a 71 in his first tournament since he delivered the winning Ryder Cup point for the Americans.
He was one of 13 players tied for 44th at 1 under, including Ian Poulter, who was making his first PGA Tour-sanctioned start since a foot injury in May caused him to take off the rest of the season. Poulter tied for 28th last week at the Macau Open, his first tournament back.