Anirban Lahiri starts with impressive round

Matsuyama optimistic of Malaysia challenge

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. Now tied eighth, Lahiri is three shots behind Australian Cameron Smith, who after a successful rookie season on PGA Tour, holds the lead for the first time in his career.

Smith, 24, victor along with Jonas Blixt at last April's Zurich Classic of New Orleans, made eight birdies in his first start of the new tour season.

The world number four is hoping for a third consecutive win at the CIMB Classic, and opened his campaign with three birdies in the first nine holes at TPC Kuala Lumpur. Entering the event, his scoring average in eight previous rounds at TPC Kuala Lumpur was 65.88.

World number three Matsuyama will likely be the 24-year-old's main rival again at the event this year, and could push him to the limit in the sweltering tropical conditions. "I pretty much tried to copy everything he did because I figured he's a good guy to imitate out here".

The American is the man of the moment after a superb season during which he racked up five wins including a maiden major victory and was named the 2017 PGA Tour Player of the Year.

Lahiri, third a year ago at the same event, is coming of a tied-9th finish in the last start on the PGA Tour in the BMW Champion- ships, the third leg of the FedExCup play-offs. The last player to win his first start in a tour event was Jim Benepe at the 1988 Western Open. Keegan Bradley, Xander Schauffele and Poom Saksansin of Thailand were tied for second at 7 under.

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

"I'm hoping that he is the reason for the "three-peat" and we can get some good vibes through him", he said.

Three players are tied for fifth with 66s: Kevin Na, Gary Woodland and Pat Perez. He put all that strong course experience to use today to finish the day in tied eighth.



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