Golf: American Justin Thomas grabs share of lead to open CIMB Classic defence

KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS) - Justin Thomas enjoyed a welcome return to Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, when the American golfer kicked off the defence of his CIMB Classic title by surging into a share of the lead at the US$7 million (S$9.7 million) co-sanctioned event.

Thomas, who claimed his only PGA Tour title at the TPC Kuala Lumpur course last year when he edged out Adam Scott by a stroke, tallied nine birdies and a lone bogey in his first round this time to sign for an eight-under 64.

Derek Fathauer, who was bogey-free for his round, and Keegan Bradley matched Thomas' total to move top of the leader board, as the American trio opened a one-shot advantage over in-form Englishman Paul Casey in the second event on the 2017 PGA Tour.

Anirban Lahiri sits alone in fifth place after bogeys on his last two holes prevented the Indian from grabbing a share of the lead, one clear of a quartet of players that includes Sergio Garcia and Brendan Steele, who won last week's Safeway Open.

The event is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour.