KUALA LUMPUR: Justin Thomas will arrive for his title defence at next month’s CIMB Classic with another grand accolade, the 2017 FedExCup Champion, next to his name.
The 24-year-old American golf star put the icing on the cake to his 2016-17 PGA TOUR campaign by winning the season-long FedExCup race after finishing second at the TOUR Championship on Sunday. Thomas bagged a cool US$10 million bonus following a spectacular season which included five victories plus a maiden major title.
Thomas finished one stroke behind winner Xander Schauffele, who became the first TOUR rookie to triumph at the final FedExCup Playoffs event. The 23-year-old has also committed to the US$7 million CIMB Classic at TPC Kuala Lumpur from October 12-15 and will undoubtedly arrive as one of the top contenders.
Reflecting on his successful season which started with his CIMB Classic defence nearly 12 months ago, Thomas was delighted to join an esteemed group of FedExCup champions who include Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and close friend Jordan Spieth.
“It was an unbelievable season,” said Thomas. “It’s awesome just because I feel like I played so well this year, I was consistent. I mean, a lot of great weeks and great memories even. Life-changing events that just kind of ended with another kind of life-changing thing for me. To just have my name on the trophy with the rest of those guys is pretty awesome.”
Thomas recalled how he started the 2016-17 season on a strong note with his second win at the CIMB Classic, which is the only PGA TOUR event staged in Southeast Asia.
“I mean Malaysia was great and to win, that was a new and a different win for me coming from four back like that. It was an awesome, it was a great week … huge achievement,” said Thomas.
World No. 4 Thomas will represent Team USA in the Presidents Cup against the International team this week before recharging his batteries. He will then take the trip to Kuala Lumpur.
“After the Presidents Cup I get a couple days off and reset the goals and then my dad, Jimmy (his caddie) and myself will go off to Malaysia again.”
Schauffele, whose mother is Taiwanese, will make his debut at the CIMB Classic, which forms part of the early 2017-18 PGA TOUR season, following a year which saw him win twice. His success at the TOUR Championship, which was exclusive to the top-30 players, will now put him in the same conversation as Thomas, Spieth and the other 20-somethings who have emerged onto the golf scene.
“It’s a tremendous honour,” he said of his second win of 2017 where he also triumphed at the Greenbrier Classic.
“I think I’ve always been on the outside looking in. You’ve got Justin, you’ve got Jordan, you’ve got Daniel Berger, you’ve got Emiliano Grillo, and Hideki’s (Matsuyama) also young. It’s kind of weird being in their company. I said I got annoyed of talking about them so much before, but yeah, they push me and I can’t thank them enough.”
Advance tickets for the CIMB Classic are now on sale on www.ticketpro.com.my, Ticket Pro sales channels and selected MST Golf Stores in the Klang Valley. Fans who purchase tickets from now until October 8 will enjoy early bird pricing, with tickets costing RM62 each for the first round (Oct 12, Thursday) and second round (Oct 13, Friday). Prices for the third round (Oct 14, Saturday) and final round (Oct 15, Sunday) are RM99 per day. A season ticket for all four rounds are priced at RM199.
The CIMB Classic is also sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Professional Golf Association of Malaysia (PGAM). The premier Malaysian tournament is also the first of three PGA TOUR events in Asia during the month of October. — Bernama.