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, who broke his duck on the PGA Tour in May at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans alongside Jonas Blixt, made birdies at the third, fourth and fifth and picked up further shots at the seventh and ninth to approach the turn in 31.
Smith, an Australian, posted a blemish-free round of eight birdies, including five on the front nine for a 64. Entering the event, his scoring average in eight previous rounds at TPC Kuala Lumpur was 65.88.
Twenty-five-year-old Matsuyama, another sparkling young talent, was runner-up behind Thomas in Malaysia last year in a breakout season boasting three wins and two top-five finishes at the majors. "The rough has been up apparently compared to a year ago, that's what Justin told me at least".
"I feel great having finished the first round pretty well", said Park, 24, after her round with top-ranked Ryu So-Yeon and world number three Lexi Thompson at the SKY72 Golf & Resort.
Tied with Schauffele in second place is Thailand's Poom Saksansin, a 24-year-old two-time Asian Tour victor making his first start in a PGA Tour event.
Once known as "Jordan Spieth's friend", the Louisville, Kentucky-born golfer returns to Southeast Asia as the PGA Tour's player of the year and in the wake of an impressive debut for the United States in their dominant Presidents Cup win.
"I'm hoping that he is the reason for the "three-peat" and we can get some good vibes through him", he said.
Brendan Steele and Davis Love III led a big group in eighth spot, while Ian Poulter was in joint 19th with three others.