Xander Schauffele shot 7-under 65 in the opening round of the CIMB Classic and trails Australian Cameron Smith by a shot in Malaysia. Here’s how the first round played out at TPC Kuala Lumpur.
Leaderboard: Smith (-8), Schauffele (-7), Poom Saksansin (-7), Keegan Bradley (-7), Kevin Na (-6), Gary Woodland (-6), Pat Perez (-6)
What it means: The PGA Tour’s reigning Rookie of the Year outplayed the reigning Player of the Year – at least for one round. Schauffele was grouped with Justin Thomas and was five shots better than the two-time defending CIMB champion. Schauffele ended last season (just a few weeks ago) with a win at the Tour Championship, where Thomas was crowned the FedExCup winner. Thomas, in his first start of the new season, had five birdies and three bogeys. He also used his manager, Lance Young, on his bag as regular caddie Jimmy Johnson fell ill during the round in the oppressive heat.
Round of the day: Schauffele’s bogey-free 65 earned style points, coming alongside the Tour’s POY, but Smith’s 64 earned the first-round lead. Smith, who teamed with Jonas Blixt to win the Zurich Classic in April, had eight birdies and no bogeys. Smith has seven missed cuts in 10 Tour starts since earning his maiden victory.
Best of the rest: After starting on the back nine and turning in 1 under, Saksansin shot 6-under 30 on the front. The 24-year-old Thai earned a spot in the 78-man field – his first PGA Tour start – via his seventh-place standing on the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit. Bradley, who also shot 65, had six birdies, one eagle and one bogey. Meanwhile, recent Hall of Fame inductee Davis Love III shot 5-under 67, despite a bogey and a double. Love had five consecutive birdies on Nos. 2-6 and tallied eight for the round.
Biggest disappointment: Graham DeLaet (T-5), Bud Cauley (T-7) and Grayson Murray (T-9) fared well last week at the Safeway Classic. But their games didn’t travel. DeLaet and Cauley both shot 5-over 77 on opening day in Malaysia. Murray had the worst first-round score, shooting 10-over 82. There is no cut this week.
Shot of the day: After going birdie-birdie on Nos. 14 and 15 to tie for the lead, Na took a two-shot advantage with a hole-out eagle on the par-4 16th. He would bogey 18 to finish one back.
Quote of the day: “I haven’t really reset any goals yet. I was supposed to make a list of goals before I came out here and I failed to do so, which might be a good thing – my head is still in the clouds,” - Schauffele