Thomas eyes three-peat at CIMB Classic

Justin Thomas ©Khalid Redza|Asian Tour

KUALA LUMPUR: Newly-crowned PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas will return to TPC Kuala Lumpur for a third-year running as he seeks a hat-trick of victories at the CIMB Classic.

Days after capturing his first Major championship by two shots at Quail Hollow Club over Francesco Molinari, Patrick Reed and Louis Oosthuizen, the 24-year-old American committed to his title defence at the eighth playing of Southeast Asia’s only PGA Tour event from October 12-15.

“We knew Justin Thomas was destined for great things after picking up his first two PGA Tour wins at the CIMB Classic two years in a row,” said CIMB Group chief executive Tengku Dato’ Sri Zafrul Aziz.

“Justin has not only showcased a solid, consistent game since the start of the PGA Tour but also set a few new records along the way. And this October, golf fans in Malaysia will have the chance to watch Justin live as he goes for his third straight win against another strong field at a world-class venue in TPC Kuala Lumpur.”

Only 17 different players have won a PGA Tour event for three straight years, including the likes of Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson. Steve Stricker was the last player to accomplish it at the John Deere Classic in 2011.

Thomas’ win at the PGA Championship was his fourth of the season, which began with him capturing the CIMB Classic in 2016 – thanks to a three-shot victory over Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama.

The win early in the season proved a springboard for Thomas, who swept the two Hawaiian events at the start of 2017 – the Tournament of Champions and the Sony Open.

At the former, he defeated Matsuyama once again and at the Sony Open, he opened with 59 – becoming the youngest player in PGA Tour history to record a sub-60 round. His 253 total at that event also set a new PGA TOUR scoring record for a 72-hole tournament.

The CIMB Classic, which offers a total prize pot of US$7 million, will feature a 78-player elite field, comprising 60 from the PGA Tour, 10 from the Asian Tour and eight sponsor’s exemptions.