The First Look: CIMB Classic
October 06, 2017
By Jeff Shain, Special to PGATOUR.COM
Justin Thomas successfully defends his title at CIMB
• COURSE: TPC Kuala Lumpur (West), 7,005 yards, par 72. Located just five miles from the city’s heart, the facility spent its first 25 years as Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club before joining the TPC Network two summers ago. No stranger to high-level events, the West layout has served as host on both the PGA TOUR and European Tour schedules, holding the Malaysian Open site for seven years. The LPGA also makes the club's East course an annual stop, with Shanshan Feng set to defend her title at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia at the end of the month. The club’s original 1991 Nelson & Haworth layout was given a thorough redesign in 2008 by Ted and Geoff Parslow.
• FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 500 points.
• CHARITY: The CIMB Foundation supports some 130 charities, with emphasis on projects relating to community development, education and sports. In addition to developing junior golf in Southeast Asia, the foundation also sponsors programs in squash, soccer and cycling.
• FIELD WATCH: New FedExCup champion Justin Thomas, winner of the past two CIMB crowns, and world No. 3 Hideki Matsuyama headline a limited field of just 78 players. Eleven entrants finished among the top 30 in last season’s FedExCup points race. … Matsuyama and THE PLAYERS champion Si Woo Kim are among nine teammates from the International squad that competed in the Presidents Cup at Liberty National. … Xander Schauffele, whose TOUR Championship victory at East Lake sealed Rookie of the Year honors, makes the first start of his second TOUR season. … The field boasts 10 major championship winners, including newly enshrined World Golf Hall of Famer Davis Love III. … Ten berths are held for top Asian Tour players; local exemptions were given to Malaysian pros Danny Chia and Nicholas Fung.
• 72-HOLE RECORD: 261, Bo Van Pelt (2011 at The Mines Resort & GC). KLGCC record: 262, Justin Thomas (2015).
• 18-HOLE RECORD: 61, Nick Watney (4th round, 2012 at The Mines Resort & GC), Justin Thomas (2nd round, 2015 at KLGCC).
• LAST YEAR: Thomas chased down Anirban Lahiri to successfully defend his first PGA TOUR title, closing with an 8-under-par 64 that was two shots better than anyone else in the field. Thomas began the final day four shots behind Lahiri, but birdied four of his first five holes while the Indian pro stumbled with a quadruple bogey at No. 3. From there, Thomas added three more back-nine birdies to finish three shots ahead of Matsuyama (66), who overtook Lahiri for second with birdies at Nos. 17 and 18. After fixing an alignment issue midway through his third round, Thomas played his final 23 holes in 13-under par. He became the first man to successfully defend a title since Matt Every at the 2015 Arnold Palmer Invitational.
• STORYLINES: Thomas is the latest with an eye on the TOUR’s first three-peat since Steve Stricker won three John Deere Classics from 2009-11. The only others to do that in the past dozen years: Tiger Woods (three times) and Stuart Appleby (Sentry Tournament of Champions 2004-06). … Matsuyama, who struggled throughout the FedExCup Playoffs and went just 1-2-1 at the Presidents Cup, hopes his singles win over Thomas and a return to his home continent ignites a spark. … No Asian Tour pro has won the CIMB Classic, though Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat nearly pulled it off in 2013. Aphibarnrat finished one shot out of joining Ryan Moore and Gary Woodland in a playoff.
• SHORT CHIPS: A total of 29 players are heading to Malaysia from the Safeway Open that starts the new PGA TOUR season. That includes Emiliano Grillo, who also competed in the Presidents Cup a week earlier. … Doubles have been in style since the event moved to the TPC Kuala Lumpur in 2013. Moore won the first two editions, followed by Thomas going back-to-back. … Even with a history dating only to 2010, no one has teed it up in every CIMB Classic. Moore, Marc Leishman and John Senden each played six of the first seven, but none of the three are entered this week.
• TELEVISION: Wednesday-Thursday, 10:30 p.m.-2:30 a.m. ET (Golf Channel). Friday-Saturday, 11 p.m.-3 a.m. (GC).
• PGA TOUR LIVE: None.
• RADIO: None.