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 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 off the lead.
Hideki Matsuyama, the 2016 runner-up, faltered with two bogeys to sit with Thomas in a tie for 23rd place.
Park shares lead at LPGA event
Sung Hyun Park birdied her last two holes for a 6-under 66 and a share of the lead in the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship in Incheon, South Korea as she bolstered her bid to win LPGA rookie of the year and player of the year. The South Korean was tied for the first-round lead with Min-Sun Kim and Minjee Lee. Cristie Kerr, coming off a victory last week in France, was among those at 67. Lydia Ko was in the large group at 68.
Auburn, Oklahoma State served subpoenas
Auburn says it has received a federal grand jury subpoena in the bribery case against basketball associate head coach Chuck Person. Auburn's statement said it won't yet release the documents because they are typically "sent with the understanding that they will be treated confidentially," including on whether they were received in the first place.
Oklahoma State provided a copy of the subpoena it received in the widespread corruption case, prompting Auburn to acknowledge that it has also gotten one.
Person was suspended without pay after prosecutors said the former NBA player accepted about $91,500 in bribes to steer clients to a Pittsburgh-based financial adviser when they reached the NBA.
Pac-12 to launch own task force
The Pac-12 Conference is launching its own task force to develop reform proposals in the wake of a federal bribery investigation that includes two assistant coaches in the conference. Commissioner Larry Scott expects the 10 to 12 members on his task force "to address issues that are threatening the integrity of collegiate athletics and to protect our student-athletes. Importantly, our task force is going to look at the issues raised by the FBI investigation and do deep dives into the culture and issues around recruitment and men's college basketball, but, more broadly, at related issues and examine how some of the things we've seen in basketball could potentially impact other sports," Scott said. "This is particularly the case when it comes to recruitment in other sports where we're increasingly seeing trends, more and more influence and involvement from third parties."
... Kentucky coach John Calipari said his program has not been contacted by federal authorities or the NCAA as part of the investigation into corruption in college basketball.
Heat loses McGruder
Rodney McGruder, who started at small forward for the Heat last season and was a strong candidate to open this season in the same role, will have surgery next week to repair a stress fracture in his leg. McGruder played in a team-high 78 games last season for Miami, starting 65 of them. The injury likely will keep him sidelined at least three months, though the timetable for a return will be known until after surgery. McGruder averaged 6.4 points per game last season, narrowly missing getting voted onto the All-Rookie team.
around the horn
Soccer: The United States advanced to the round of 16 at the under-17 World Cup despite losing 3-1 to Colombia. Both teams finished on six points along with Ghana, which won Group A on goal difference. Colombia claimed second spot after its head-to-head result against the U.S., which also advanced as one of the best third-place teams.
Tennis: Johanna Konta withdrew from the Kremlin Cup next week, meaning Caroline Garcia has secured the eighth and last berth in the WTA Finals.