Cameron Smith jumped out of the blocks quickly at the CIMB Classic, grabbing the opening round lead with an 8-under-par 64. Smith finished without a bogey in his initial round, while defending-champion Justin Thomas struggled with a 70, sitting six shots back at 2-under par.
Here are four takeaways from Day 1 in Malaysia:
There were plenty of low scores in the opening round at TPC Kuala Lumpur, with only 19 golfers failing to break par in the 78-player field. That trend will likely continue with numerous players hitting short irons with their par-4 approach shots, while also having four reachable par 5s on the course. The tournament has also implemented the lift, clean, and place policy due to the sticky and wet conditions, providing preferred lies for the players.
Xander Schauffele has never played in a Malaysian event, but showed no signs of inexperience in his first round. The reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year posted a bogey-free 65, trailing Smith by just one shot. The 23-year-old missed just one fairway and one green in regulation all day, averaging 1.765 putts per GIR. "It was boring, which I guess is a good thing out here. (I) hit a lot of fairways and kind of made an easy day out of it," Schauffele told Arron Oberholser of the Golf Channel.
The Aussie continues to have success on the TPC Kuala Lumpur track, hitting 12 fairways and 16 greens while vaulting his way to the top of the leaderboard on Thursday. Smith, who won the Zurich Classic with Jonas Blixt in April, finished in a tie for fifth at the 2014 CIMB Classic, and is now 29-under-par in nine career competitive rounds. "I've been around here a few times before. Obviously played quite a bit in Asia," Smith told pgatour.com after the round. "So, I feel like it's just back to what it was a few years ago. So yeah, it's pretty easy for me to read the greens and get some putts going."
The scores may be low, but the temperature in Malaysia isn't. Justin Thomas' caddie, Jimmy Johnson, was unable to finish Thursday's round due to oppressive heat. "The heat is always tough, but you got to take care of yourself, drink a lot of water," Kevin Na told pgatour.com.