Thomas wins CIMB Clas­sic – again

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

JUSTIN Thomas se­cured a back-to-back CIMB Clas­sic ti­tle yes­ter­day, post­ing a flaw­less eight-un­der 64 to erase a four-stroke overnight deficit in the only PGA tour event he has ever won.

Thomas fin­ished at 23-un­der over­all at TPC Kuala Lumpur, three shots ahead of Ja­pan’s Hideki Mat­suyama, whose fi­nal-round 66 was not enough to keep up.

Both of the 23-year-old Thomas’s two PGA Tour wins have been at the CIMB Clas­sic.

Thomas also put in a solid show­ing at last week’s Safe­way Open, the PGA Tour’s sea­son-opener, fin­ish­ing just four strokes off the lead.

“I feel like I just need to con­tinue to build on this mo­men­tum and try to use this as kind of a spring­board to the start of the year,” he said.

“To try to move up in the world rank­ings and get in that top 10, get in that top five.”

Widely re­garded as one of golf ’s upand-com­ing young play­ers, Thomas’s deft wedge play and ap­proach shots were a ma­jor plus in Malaysia’s hot and hu­mid con­di­tions, which were ideal for scor­ing.

Thomas said he es­pe­cially drew con­fi­dence from be­ing able to lead the first two rounds and come back for the win af­ter fal­ter­ing in round three.

On Oc­to­ber 22 he was cruis­ing to­ward the ti­tle when he dropped four shots in a three-hole stretch to start the back nine.

That put In­dia’s Anir­ban Lahiri in the driver’s seat with a four-stroke lead com­ing into the fi­nal round.

But yes­ter­day it was Lahiri’s turn to fal­ter, stum­bling on the par-five third hole with a quadru­ple-bo­gey nine af­ter his er­rant tee shot got stuck in a tree, forc­ing him to take a penalty and re­turn to the tee.

Although he clawed back with a birdie and an ea­gle on the next two holes, a bo­gey quickly fol­lowed and fail­ure to con­vert putts down the stretch sealed his fate.

“I fought back as best I could, but I just couldn’t get the putts to fall on the back nine,” he said, call­ing the out­come a “tough pill to swal­low”.

Lahiri, the 2015 Asian Tour Or­der of Merit win­ner, ended up tied for third at 19-un­der with Derek Fathauer of the United States, with Aus­tralia’s Marc Leish­man two strokes fur­ther back.

Thomas pock­ets US$1.26 mil­lion, 500 FedEX Cup points and an in­vite to the win­ners-only 2017 Tour­na­ment of Cham­pi­ons.

He now leads in the race for the FedEX Cup Cham­pi­onship, though the sea­son re­mains young.

Thomas and sev­eral oth­ers in the field head next week to Shang­hai for the World Golf Cham­pi­onships-HSBC Cham­pi­ons.

The CIMB Clas­sic is co-spon­sored by the Asian and PGA Tours and is the sec­ond event of the PGA Tour’s 2017 sched­ule. It de­buted in 2010. –

Photo: AFP

Justin Thomas of the US plays a shot dur­ing the sec­ond round of the 2016 CIMB Clas­sic golf tour­na­ment in Kuala Lumpur on Oc­to­ber 21.

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