Three out of four won’t be bad for Justin Thomas in Malaysia

American hopes to take a third victory in CIMB Classic after missing hat-trick last year

Justin Thomas: secured his first PGA Tour win in Kuala Lumpur in 2015 and successfully defended the title the following year, but  could only finish 17th in 2017. Photograph:  Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Justin Thomas: secured his first PGA Tour win in Kuala Lumpur in 2015 and successfully defended the title the following year, but could only finish 17th in 2017. Photograph: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

 

Justin Thomas is targeting a flying start to the new season with a third victory in the space of four years in the CIMB Classic, which opens on Thursday.

Thomas secured his first PGA Tour win in Kuala Lumpur in 2015 and successfully defended the title the following year, but missed out on a hat-trick when he could only finish 17th in 2017.

And, having missed out on a second successive FedEx Cup title in 2018, the former world number one is determined to get plenty of points on the board in the early stages of the wraparound season.

“I always feel it’s important to play in the fall because you don’t want to get too far behind,” Thomas told a pre-event press conference. “These are big events, no cut, big purses and great fields where you’re able to get some points, you’re able to make a lot of money, you’re able to get a lot of world ranking points early or at least the opportunity to do so.

I feel fresher and I would like to hope that that’s from the work that I’ve put in off the course

“It would be great to take two or three months off and not play any golf or anything, but these are courses and places I obviously enjoy coming to and I’ve had success at, and because of that it’s huge to be able to get off to a good start because you’re not behind the eight-ball.

“Once you get to January, February, March, you don’t feel like you’re as pressed to play well. Obviously if you don’t play well in these, then you’re still in that situation, but you feel hopefully you can play well enough here to move high enough in the FedEx Cup.”

Thomas took a week off after the Ryder Cup – where he was the top American points scorer at Le Golf National – and hopes his hard work in the gym will help him fight off fatigue after the long journey to Malaysia.

“I feel fresher and I would like to hope that that’s from the work that I’ve put in off the course,” he added.

“I’m still tired, don’t get me wrong, but I felt last year when I got here I was pretty out of it. I’m excited for these two weeks. I think I have an opportunity to play well and hopefully knock off a win or two, but at least give myself chances.”

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