Recap of the day
Split into 26 three-balls going off two tees, just two hours separated the first and last groups out today. Playing in the event for the first time, Bronson Burgoon was in the third group from 10th tee (08.20 local) alongside James Hahn and local Malaysian youngster Kim Leun Kwang and made a slow start before going on a birdie blitz to post 9-under, aided by a hole-out eagle from sand at 18 (his 9th). That was good enough for a one-shot lead over fellow American Austin Cook, who closed his day with a delicate chip-in at the ninth. Billy Horschel and Scott Piercy added to the early US dominance with 65s while PGA Tour regular, Taiwan’s C.T. Pan, added some international flavor by also shooting 7-under. With scoring low, just under a third (25) of the 78-man field shot 4-under or better.
Leaderboard: -9 Bronson Burgoon, -8 Austin Cook, -7 Billy Horschel, Scott Piercy, C.T. Pan, -6 Justin Thomas, Paul Casey, Nick Watney, Emiliano Grillo, Kevin Chappell, Louis Oosthuizen, Joel Dahmen, Byeong Hun An.
Notables: -4 Marc Leishman, -3 Gary Woodland, Xander Schauffele, -2 Branden Grace, Keegan Bradley, Thomas Pieters, Pat Perez, Kevin Tway, -1 Ryan Moore, +1 Rafa Cabrera Bello, Jimmy Walker, +3 Brandt Snedeker.
Revised outright betting: 10/3 Thomas, 13/2 Horschel, 10/1 Casey, 12/1 Burgoon, 14/1 Pan, 16/1 Cook, An, 18/1 Grillo, Oosthuizen, 22/1 Piercy.
Friday weather forecast
T-storms arrived on Thursday and they’re due to continue into Friday so we could be in for some stop-start and frustrating delays, especially in the afternoon. Temperatures are in the mid-80s but it’ll feel much hotter due to the humidity. Winds are light.
Leaders after 18 holes
Bronson Burgoon (63) – Played his first four holes in over par before splashing red at 10 of the final 14 to secure his first lead after any round on the PGA Tour. Missed just one green in regulation and finished fifth for the day in Putts per GIR (ShotLink/Strokes Gained figures aren’t available this week).
Austin Cook (64) – A winner at the RSM Classic last year, Cook is another first-timer this week. He hit the ground running with an eight-birdie (four on each nine) 64. His flawless lap included 100% scrambling after he missed five greens in regulation.
Billy Horschel (65) – Hasn’t played here since T37 in 2014 and expected a tougher test but emerged with a bogey-free lap with all his birdies on either par 5s (all four) or par 3s (three). Piped 10 (of 14) fairways and hit 15 greens in the right number.
Scott Piercy (65) – Missed the cut at the Safeway Open last week but found his mojo here, hitting 16 greens. Played the par 5s in 5-under thanks to three birdies and eagle-3 at 10. Shot a 62 in round one here when T7 in 2015.
C.T. Pan (65) – Another seeing the course for the first time, Pan sprinkled eight birdies against a single bogey. Official scoring has him splitting just two (of 14) fairways which seems very strange, especially as he’s listed as hitting 16 GIR. Also 4-for-5 in sand saves.
Fate of the favorites
Justin Thomas (66) – He shot a 61, two 64s and two 66s on the way to back-to-back wins here in 2015 and 2016 so another 66 seemed fairly routine for JT. Eight birdies today but just two on the par 5s so there looks more to come. Found the dancefloor 17 times out of 18 so approach play excellent.
Paul Casey (66) – Two eagles and a birdie in his first five holes, Casey threatened a ridiculous score before calming considerably after that. Found 11 of the 14 fairways and 15 greens.
Bronson Burgoon (63): “You have to putt well to play well. I typically drive it pretty good, so when I putt, I play pretty good. I love it. It reminds me a lot of the courses when I was playing on the Latinoamerica Tour, very hilly, got to drive it good. It was enjoyable. I played yesterday for the first time in the pro‑am and I was glad to get a practice round in.”
Austin Cook (64): “It was just one of those days everything was going my way. Two chip ins, two of the last four holes, one out of the bunker and there on No. 9, that was a tough chip but I got lucky, hit the flagstick to fall in.”
C.T. Pan (65): “I made a lot of 20‑footers, 25‑footers and that kept me going. I hit a lot of tee shots out there, gave myself some good opportunities.”
Justin Thomas (66): “Not having my best stuff and getting around here in 6-under is huge. I just didn’t take advantage of a couple opportunities and let a couple go, but kind of found something there those last five holes and was able to at least make a good round.”
Road to victory at TPC Kuala Lumpur
2017 Pat Perez –R1: 5th, R2: 1st, R3: 1st
2016 Justin Thomas – R1: 1st, R2: 1st, R3: 2nd
2015 Justin Thomas – R1: 16th, R2: 1st, R3: 1st
2014 Ryan Moore – R1: 5th, R2: 3rd, R3: 1st
2013 Ryan Moore – R1: 1st, R2: 2nd, R3: 1st
2012 Nick Watney – R1: 38th, R2: 20th, R3: 7th
Notes: Four of the last five winners have been in the top five after day one. However, Justin Thomas trailed by six shots (T16) after opening with 68 in 2015 and Nick Watney was eight off the pace before working his way through the field to win in 2012.
Fate of the 18-hole leaders at the CIMB Classic – where did they finish?
2017 Cameron Smith – 5th
2016 Justin Thomas – 1st, Derek Fathauer – 3rd, Keegan Bradley – 6th
2015 Scott Piercy – 7th
2014 Rikard Karlbeg – 39th
2013 Ryan Moore – 1st
2012 Troy Matteson – 33rd
Notes: Two first-round leaders have gone on to claim victory and generally a fast start leads to plenty of FedExCup points although it doesn’t work out for everyone.
Focus on – TPC Kuala Lumpur
Ahead of this year’s edition, the greens were relaid with TifEagle Bermuda while Celebration Bermuda was installed tee-to-green. Much of the talk beforehand was about a firmer course leading to tougher scoring conditions. Billy Horschel predicted a winning score of “14, 16 under par” while Justin Thomas said: “3 or 4 under’s going to get you a lot more than it did the last couple years.” The reality played out differently on day one with 3-under only good enough for tied 26th and 55 off the 78 players breaking par. Scoring average on day one checked in at 69.821 with a split of 34.013 on the front and 35.808 on the back. So far, TPC Kuala Lumpur is still yielding low scores. Nothing much has changed.