Justin Thomas Defends his CIMB Classic title

With a successful title defense, Justin Thomas completed a fairy-tale return. Photo Courtesy: PGA Tour Twitter Account
With a successful title defense, Justin Thomas completed a fairy-tale return.
Photo Courtesy: PGA Tour Twitter Account

By Jay Betsill

Justin Thomas fired a final round 64 to win the CIMB Classic at TPC Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia for the second consecutive year. Thomas’ 23-under total earned him $1.26 million.

“It was obviously a fun day. It couldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for my finish yesterday,” the 23-year-old American said. “That was huge for me and put me in a good position to have a chance to win today. I definitely owe a lot of it to that.”

Thomas began the final round four-shots back of Anirban Lahiri and ended up with a three-shot victory over Hideki Matsuyama. Matsuyama, who won the Japan Open last week, birdied 17 and 18 on Sunday to finish in second.

“It’s great to win again here. It’s a place I’m comfortable with,” Thomas said. “Hopefully I will be able to come back next year.”

In repeating as champion, Thomas became the first player to defend a title since Matt Every at the 2014-15 Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. Ryan Moore also successfully defended at the CIMB Classic in 2013-14.

Notables in the CIMB Classic field included Keegan Bradley (6,-16), Adam Scott (T10, -13), Ryan Moore (T17, -12), Sergio Garcia (T17, -12),  last week’s Safeway Open champion Brendan Steele (T26, -10), Vijay Singh (T33, -8), Patrick Reed (T51, -4) and Ernie Els (T72, +4).

Next up on the PGA Tour is a World Golf Championships event, the WGC-HSBC Champions at Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai. The stacked field includes Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia, Brooks Koepka, Matt Kuchar, Patrick Reed, Jimmy Walker, Bubba Watson and Justin Thomas.

With the WGC event being a limited field tournament, there is another PGA Tour event concurrently, the Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, MS. Notables in the field include past major champions David Duval, Retief Goosen, Angel Cabrera, Lucas Glover, Geoff Ogilvy and David Toms.