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Justin Thomas begins defense of CIMB Classic title

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Justin Thomas collected the Jack Nicklaus Award as the U.S. PGA Tour player of the year a couple of days before heading to Malaysia in a bid to win his third successive CIMB Classic. Little wonder then the two-time defending champion was slightly off his game in the first round on Thursday, managing only a 2-under-par 70 to sit six strokes behind leader Cameron Smith of Australia. Smith opened with a blemish-free 8-under 64 and leads a U.S. PGA Tour event after the first round for the first time in 64 starts. Keegan Bradley, Xander Schauffele and Poom Saksansin of Thailand were tied for second at 7 under. Brendan Steele, coming off a victory last week at the Safeway Open, had an opening 67 to be three shots o ...