Thomas hopes for CIMB Classic hat-trick

KUALA LUMPUR: Justin Thomas said on Wednesday he hoped to ride a wave of recent success to the “unbelievable achievement” of a third victory in a row at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia.
The American is the man of the moment after a superb season during which he racked up five wins including a maiden Major victory and was named the 2017 PGA Tour Player of the Year.
The world number four hopes to extend his good form by wining a third successive victory at the PGA Tour event at the TPC Kuala Lumpur, which begins on Thursday.
“It would be an unbelievable achievement.” he said. “It’s so hard to win out here and there’s so many great players — it would be awesome.”
Thomas clinched his maiden PGA Tour title at the 2015 CIMB Classic with a 26-under-par 262, and triumphed against a tough challenge from Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama to win in 2016.
World number three Matsuyama will likely be the 24-year-old’s main rival again at the event this year, and could push him to the limit in the sweltering tropical conditions.
Matsuyama, 25, has been on good form with six titles around the world, including two World Golf Championships tournaments, over the past year.
“Hopefully I can play well again and just have as good a season. It is very important to play well in the opening events,” he said.
Other serious contenders include India’s Anirban Lahiri, a winner at the 2015 Malaysia Open, Englishman Paul Casey and Xander Schauffele from the US.
Still, Thomas believes he has a good omen in the form of his caddie Jimmy Johnson.
Johnson was the caddie for Thomas’s compatriot Steve Stricker when he won his third successive victory at the John Deere Classic in the US in 2011.
“I’m hoping that he is the reason for the ‘three-peat’ and we can get some good vibes through him,” he said.
The $7 million CIMB Classic is co-sponsored by the Asian Tour and PGA Tour, with prize money for the winner of $1.26 million.