Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t even pretty. But Justin Thomas held on and now he’s a PGA Tour champion.
The 22-year old survived a double bogey on the 14th hole, and made a character-testing six footer for par on the final hole, to hold off former world number one, Adam Scott, and win the 2015 CIMB Classic by a single stroke.
“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.”
The former University of Alabama star was seemingly in control of the tournament after an eagle on 10 and a birdie on the par 4 13th moved him to 25-under par for the tournament, and five-under for the round. But then disaster struck on 14. But Thomas was not going to let that affect him. He bounced back with birdies on the next three holes before the closing par.
“I knew I had four more holes to try to make some more birdies and was fortunate enough to get birdies on three of the last four holes.”
Close Call for Scott
Scott, who had the round of the day with a bogey-free 63, had a chance to tie, but his 35-foot eagle effort never had a chance, leaving him on stoke short.
Overall the 2013 Masters Champion had seven birdies and an eagle on the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club layout on Sunday.
The Australian, one of the major stars directly effected by the anchoring ban that comes into effect on January 1, 2016, employed the claw grip this week and the results were encouraging.
“These are important events to start the next year’s PGA TOUR season,” Scott said after his final round. “Next week is the World Golf Championship (HSBC Champions). I would love to get into contention there and try and win. I would like to have a win before the end of the season. So this is a step in the right direction.”
Another Near Miss for Na
After back-to-back runner-up finishes to start the season, Kevin Na had to settle for a tie for third in event number three of the season. His 274 total tied him for the position with third-round co-leader Brendan Steele who finished with a 68.
Na was four-under par on the front side and birdied number 10 to get it to -24 for the tournament, and looked poised for his first victory since the 2011 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. But a string of eight consecutive pars to close his round, including a couple of painful lip-outs, sealed his fate.
Still the 32-year old American was looking at the positives from his strong run of play.
“But you’ve got to take the positive,” Na said. “I’m playing the best golf of my life. I’ve got another shot at the World Golf Championship (HSBC Champions) next week.”
No Three-Peat for Moore
Two-time defending champion Ryan Moore‘s dream of winning the same PGA tour event three years in a row ended on Sunday. Still, a final round 69 gave him a tie for 10th in the event he’s dominated the past two seasons.
Among other players with a strong performance heading into the World Golf Championship event next week were Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, who shot a final round 67 to finish solo fifth at -22. American James Hahn was another stroke back after a 68 on Sunday.
Two more Americans, first round leader Scott Piercy (69) and Brian Harman (70) shared seventh place at 19-under par 269.
Patrick Reed was one of three players who shared 10th place with Moore after a 69. Sergio Garcia (T24) and Henrik Stenson (T47) finished well back in the pack.
Next Up on Tour
Week number four of the 2015-2016 PGA Tour season features two events. The tour’s elite will travel to Shanghai, China for the WGC-HSBC Champions event, while the rank and file members will be in Jackson, Mississippi for the Sanderson Farms Championship. Bubba Watson is the defending champion at the HSBC Champions, while Canadian Nick Taylor will look to defend his title in Mississippi.
North American coverage of both events can be found on the Golf Channel starting on Wednesday night from China.