22-year-old Justin Thomas became the latest standard-bearer for the new golfing generation as he secured his maiden PGA Tour title in the CIMB Classic in Malaysia.
Justin Thomas came through some difficult moments at Kuala Lumpur G&CC to card a final round of 66 and finish one shot clear of Australia’s Adam Scott.
Thomas, a good friend of Jordan Spieth, fired a course record of 61 in the second round but, in round four, his chance of a first Tour victory appeared to have gone when he found a water hazard on the 14th and stumbled to a double-bogey.
Showing great resolve, Thomas rallied with three straight birdies after the slip. He stood on the 18th tee with a one-stroke lead. He needed a par five to take the win.
He didn’t make it easy for himself. His drive missed the fairway to the right and his second found sand short of the putting surface. After a good bunker shot he was left with two putts from 20 feet to earn the win. But he raced the first one past and had to hole a nerve-jangling return putt to get the job done.
“I still can’t believe what happened,” Thomas said. “I made that par to clinch the title. I don’t care how I got it done; it just feels awesome.”
4 Talking points from the CIMB Classic
1 – Justin Thomas is the third straight winner in his early 20s on the PGA Tour. He follows rookies Emiliano Grillo and Smylie Kaufman in entering the winner’s circle. A former University of Alabama star and friend of Jordan Spieth, Thomas becomes the latest representative of a new golfing generation. He’d been threatening to make the breakthrough for some time, having finished last season in 30th place on the money list, and coming into this event on the back of a tied third place finish in the Frys.com Open. He’s now the early leader of the FedEx Cup and has secured an invitation to next year’s Masters.
2 – There were encouraging signs for Adam Scott this week. Not only did he close with a 63 to end the week in second place but it also looks like he’s discovered a putting method that will serve him well when the anchoring ban comes in next year. He used the claw grip this week and holed a number of excellent putts. Scott will be one to look out for at the WGC-HSBC Champions next week.
“I would love to get in contention there,” he said. “I’d like to win before the end of the season – this is a step in the right direction.”
Putting drills video:
3 – Kevin Na continued his great run at the start of the 2015-16 PGA Tour season. He finished tied third in Kuala Lumpur to follow second places in the Shriners and the Frys.com Open. He’s still chasing a victory though.
“I’ve got the two and the three, so one is next!” he said.
4 – Ryan Moore was trying for a third straight victory in this event and he had a pretty good go at it. He fired four rounds in the 60s to end the week in a tie for 10th place. He picked up $168,000 for his efforts. With no cut, there was significant prize money for everyone in the field this week. John Peterson who finished dead last, 36 shots behind Thomas, picked up over $13,000. It’s alright for some.
Kuala Lumpur G&CC, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Oct 29 – Nov 1
Purse: $7,000,000, par 72
1 Justin Thomas (USA) 68 61 67 66 262 $1,260,000
2 Adam Scott (Aus) 68 66 66 63 263 $756,000
T3 Kevin Na (USA) 67 66 64 67 264 $406,000
T3 Brendan Steele (USA) 67 63 66 68 264 $406,000
5 Hideki Matsuyama (Jap) 65 66 68 67 267 $280,000
6 James Hahn (USA) 70 65 64 68 267 $252,000
T7 Brian Harman (USA) 70 63 66 70 269 $225,750
T7 Scott Piercy (USA) 62 69 69 69 269 $225,750
9 Tony Finau (USA) 71 67 66 66 270 $203,000
T10 Jim Herman (USA) 70 66 68 67 271 $168,000
T10 Charles Howell III (USA) 66 72 67 66 271 $168,000
T10 Ryan Moore (USA) 67 69 66 69 271 $168,000
T10 Patrick Reed (USA) 68 68 66 69 271 $168,000
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage