Anirban Lahiri got off to a flying start with a five-under 67 in the first round to be at tied-8th in the CIMB Classic at the TPC Kuala Lumpur here today. Fellow Indian, SSP Chawrasia (72) was tied-44th. Lahiri, third last year at the same event, is coming of a tied-9th finish in the last start on the PGA Tour in the BMW Championships, the third leg of the FedExCup play-offs. Currently tied-8th, 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 shot an error-free 64 with five birdies on front nine and three on back nine. Lahiri, playing the CIMB Classic for the sixth time, has great affinity for the TPC Kuala Lumpur, which till 2015 was called the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club, when he won the 2015 Malaysian Open. The 67 today marked the 11th time he scored 70 or under in last 13 rounds at the TPC Kuala Lumpur. The other two scores have been 72 -- at the 2015 Malaysian Open second round but he won the title; and the final round of 2016 CIMB, when he finished third. He also shot 62 at this event last year. "I know the course well and I like it, the way I like the DGC (Delhi Golf Course)," said Lahiri before the start. With four birdies in first five holes and nine in his first nine holes on the backstretch of the course, Lahiri looked set for a real low number. But the second nine had a lot of 'misses' from makeable range. Lahiri had one bogey, when the putt slipped by from under 10 feet and a birdie on par-5 third. Chawrasia's 72 round included a trip into the water hazard on his second hole (11th of the course) and near hole- in-one. On 11th the ball seemed to stop at the edge but then rolled in as he reached the spot.
Then on Par-3 15th his sixth hole, where a BMW 740Le xDrive Hybrid Vehicle is up for grabs for a hole-in-one. The ball hit the green 4-5 inches short of the cup and rolled 5-6 feet past. He missed the birdie putt, too. "On the positive side I had quite a lot saves with up- and-downs," said Chawrasia. Smith's 64 gave him a three-shot lead over a trio of Xander Schauffele, who won the PGA Tour Championships three weeks ago, Thai youngster Poom Saksansin and Keegan Bradley who shot 65 each. At 66 Pat Perez, Kevin Na and Gary Woodland were tied- fifth. In the eighth place, apart from Lahiri, there is Brendan Steele, winner of last week's winner of Safeway Championships; the 53-year-old Hall-of-Famer Davis Love III and three others. Of the 78, who started out, 59 were even or better on a day when birdies were aplenty and balmy conditions perfect for scoring. The soft course conditions have also led to 'perfect lies' being used where players can pick and clean the ball. Also, there is no cut this week.
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