Justin Thomas looks to make it three in a row as he defends his 2016 CIMB Classic title at TPC Kuala Lumpur this week.
Trailing by four strokes beginning the final round in 2016, Justin Thomas birdied six of his first 10 holes en route to a bogey-free, 8-under 64 to successfully defend his title by three strokes over Hideki Matsuyama and claim his second career PGA TOUR victory in his 71st TOUR start at the age of 23 years.
On his way to victory in 2015, the first of his PGA TOUR career, Thomas set the tournament-record low for 72-hole score (26-under-par). He also owns the course record at TPC Kuala Lumpur, a 61 shot in the second round of his 2015 victory.
Thomas’ 2016-17 season was a breakout year, recording one of the best seasons in recent PGA TOUR history. Along with his win at the CIMB Classic, he won back-to-back events in Hawaii at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and the Sony Open in Hawaii. Thomas’ 59 in the opening round of the Sony Open made him the youngest of seven players (eight times) to record a sub-60 round on the PGA TOUR (23 years, 9 months, 14 days). His four-day total of 253 also set a new PGA TOUR record.
In his first major championship at the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow. Thomas was never worse than fourth in the FedExCup standings following a T8 finish at the season-opening Safeway Open. Thomas was able win the Dell Technologies Championship and entered the TOUR Championship at No. 2 in the standings. With a runner-up finish at the TOUR Championship, Thomas was able to cap off his season with the FedExCup.
77 players will join Thomas in trying to become the 2017 CIMB Classic Champion at TPC Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, The course is a par 72, 7,005 yards long.
Eligible players for the 78-player field are: • The top 60 available players from the 2016-17 final FedExCup Points list, to a floor of 125th position. • The top 10 available money leaders from the Asian Tour Order of Merit as of October 9, 2017. • Eight sponsor exemptions: One designated for the defending champion, if needed, and five restricted to players who are PGA TOUR members. Two (2) Malaysians will qualify – one (1) via the CIMB National Championship held July 25-28 at TPC Kuala Lumpur and one (1) via the Official World Golf Rankings to the highest ranking Malaysian as of October 2, 2017. • If necessary to fill the field to 78 players, additional players from 2016-2017 final FedExCup Points list in order of their final position.
Hideki Matsuyama-at No. 3 in the World Golf Rankings is the highest ranked player in the field.
Si Woo Kim-is making his second start at the CIMB Classic, and he recorded a T10 finish last year in his debut.
Emiliano Grillo-The 2015-16 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year is making his second appearance in the CIMB Classic; he finished T17 last year.
Davis Love III- 21-time PGA TOUR winner Davis Love III will be making his second start in the CIMB Classic, having finished T8 in his only previous appearance in 2014. Love was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame at a ceremony during last month’s Presidents Cup, where he was a Captain’s Assistant for the victorious U.S. Team.
Xander Schauffele-The 2016-17 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year is making his first appearance at the CIMB Classic.
Anirban Lahiri- Anirban Lahiri won the 2015 Malaysian Open at TPC Kuala Lumpur, and held a four-shot lead heading into the final round of the 2016 CIMB Classic, a tournament record, before eventually finishing T3. • . A seven-time Asian Tour winner and now full member on the PGA TOUR, Lahiri will make his sixth appearance at the CIMB Classic.
The CIMB Classic will feature eight players that competed in last month’s Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club just outside of Manhattan.
The CIMB Classic will feature four players in the top 20 of the Official World Golf Ranking, (Hideki Matusyama/3, Justin Thomas/4, Paul Casey/14, Rafa Cabrera Bello/19). It will be the first time that two players from the top-5 will feature in the tournament.
Brendan Steele- will arrive at the CIMB Classic on the back of another win for the second straight year after he became the first repeat winner of the Safeway Open on Sunday with a 72-hole winning score of 15-under 273 at Silverado Resort & Spa. This will be Steele’s fifth appearance at the CIMB Classic. He finished T26 last year and T3 in 2015.
CIMB Group chief executive officer Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Aziz-
“CIMB Classic is now in its eighth year and has become a highly-anticipated annual event in Malaysia and across the region. Being the title sponsor has also magnified CIMB’s stature as one of the region’s leading banking groups, enhanced by our partnership with the PGA Tour.
Our brand has risen in line with the growing popularity of the CIMB Classic as a world-class golf tournament since 2010 and the event continues to create visibility for the country on a global scale, particularly through the expansive television broadcast to over 1.1 billion households and in 227 countries yearly.”
The CIMB CEO also expressed how pleased he is for Justin Thomas success:
“We are certainly pleased that Justin will return to defend his title again at the CIMB Classic at the TPC Kuala Lumpur. We are also delighted that since winning his first PGA Tour tournament at our event here in 2015, he has become a world-class golfer with five victories in the recently-concluded PGA Tour 2016-17 season, which includes a first Major title, the FedExCup and also being voted as the Player of the Year.
For us, it is very exciting and rewarding to see how Justin’s career has taken off following his first win at the CIMB Classic.”