Thomas picked up his second-career PGA Tour win on Sunday in the rare successful title defense, capturing his second consecutive title at TPC Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia with a three-stroke win over Hideki Matsuyama of Japan.
The American entered the final round four shots behind 54-hole leader Anirban Lahiri of India. However, Thomas quickly surged to the lead early in the round with four birdies in the first five holes, benefiting from Lahiri’s misfortune on the par-5 third, when his tee shot got stuck in a tree leading to a quadruple-bogey 9.
“That was just unfortunate, it really was,” Thomas said, having played alongside Lahiri and Russell Knox in the final round. “You never want something like that to happen. That’s one of the things that happens when you win, you get a little luckier breaks. You get fortunate.”
Lahiri recovered to go out in just 1 over par, but he could only muster one birdie on the back nine to shoot a final round of even-par 72.
Meanwhile, Thomas made four more birdies, including three on the back nine, to lock up his second PGA Tour title.
“This is what you play for,” Thomas said. “You play to get in these situations and handle them well, and I felt like I did. It’s a great start to the year.”
The great start to this new PGA Tour season, just two events in now, also ensures that Thomas will enjoy a great start to calendar 2017. The win lands him a spot in the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii to start the year.
“I get to go back to Kapalua,” he said. “I love it there. I’m so excited. Hardest part was trying not to think about that those last couple holes.”
Successful defenses have become a bit of a thing in the brief history of the CIMB Classic. Thomas joins Ryan Moore as the second player to win back-to-back titles in this event. [/restrict]