Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: World number four and two-time CIMB Classic champion Justin Thomas will return to TPC Kuala Lumpur for another title run at Malaysia’s sporting showpiece.
Also confirmed for the US$7 million event from October 11-14 are in-form Keegan Bradley, Ryder Cup star Paul Casey, Japanese ace Hideki Matsuyama, Xander Schauffele and World Golf Hall of Fame members Ernie Els and Davis Love III.
Thomas has a close affinity with the CIMB Classic, having claimed his maiden PGA Tour victory in the Malaysian capital in 2015. He successfully defended his title in 2016 and has since won nine PGA Tour tournaments, including the 2017 FedEx Cup title, a Major victory and Player of the Year honours in 2017.
In the current 2017-18 PGA Tour season, the 25-year-old American has won three times and became world number one for four weeks in May. When Thomas returns to the TPC Kuala Lumpur’s newly upgraded West Course, he will be among the favourites as he is 60-under-par in 12 rounds at the venue which is a Golf Course Facility Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.
Thomas said: “I’m really excited to be heading back for the CIMB Classic. I have very fond memories of Kuala Lumpur, as it was where I had my first PGA Tour victory. To successfully defend the title in 2016 was truly special. I look forward to the opportunity to become the first player to win the CIMB Classic three times!
“It will be fun to play on the newly renovated West Course at TPC Kuala Lumpur. The golf course suits my game as I can take advantage of my length from off the tees, attack the pins and hopefully make a bunch of birdies. I can’t wait to get back to Malaysia and see all the fans who have supported me so well over the years.”
Runner-up at last year’s CIMB Classic, Bradley will return to Malaysia in winning mood after claiming the BMW Championship in a play-off last week for his fourth PGA Tour title. It snapped a six-year title drought and saw him qualify for next week’s FedEx Cup finale, the Tour Championship, in sixth place on the points standings.
World number 18 Schauffele has also committed to another crack at the CIMB Classic after an equal third finish in his debut last year. The 2017-18 Rookie of the Year has five top-10s on the PGA Tour this season.
Other big names tipped to contend for the CIMB Classic title include world number 19 Casey, winner of May’s Valspar Championship. The Englishman, holder of 19 international titles, will represent Europe in this month’s Ryder Cup. He will be making his fifth successive appearance at the CIMB Classic, with a tied seventh last year being his best result at TPC Kuala Lumpur.
Matsuyama, 26, is a five-time PGA Tour winner and currently ranked 20th in the world. Since making his debut at the CIMB Classic in 2013, the Japanese number one has posted top-five finishes over the past three editions, including being runner-up to Thomas in 2016.
Veterans Els and Love hold a combined 119 international victories, including 19 and 21 PGA Tour wins respectively. Els will as captain the International Team at the 2019 Presidents Cup, an event he has played on eight previous occasions.
The seven headliners will be joined by defending champion Pat Perez, who triumphed by four strokes over Bradley last year.
Todd Rhinehart, Vice President and Executive Director, PGA Tour, said: “We are delighted to announce the first wave of star players for the 2018 CIMB Classic which comprises established stars on the PGA Tour as well as World Golf Hall of Fame members. The CIMB Classic continues to drive the growth of the game in Malaysia and Southeast Asia and will also kick off an exciting three-tournament stretch in Asia for the PGA Tour.”
The CIMB Classic celebrates its ninth edition this year, with the sole PGA Tour-sanctioned tournament in Southeast Asia being the second tournament of the 2018-19 PGA Tour season.
Two Malaysians will compete against the global stars from the PGA Tour. One slot has been allocated to the winner of the CIMB National Championship, which is scheduled for September 25-28 at TPC Kuala Lumpur’s East Course. Subsequently, the highest ranked Malaysian on the Official World Golf Ranking as of October 1 will also earn the right to play in the CIMB Classic.
The CIMB Classic features a limited field of 78 players comprising the top-60 available players from the 2017-18 FedEx Cup points list, eight sponsor exemptions and the top-10 available players from the Asian Tour.
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