Stellar line-up of global golf stars primed for CIMB Classic in October
Kuala Lumpur: CIMB Group (or “CIMB”) today announced that two-time defending champion and world No. 4 Justin Thomas will headline a magnificent field at next month’s CIMB Classic which will feature 10 Major champions, 10 Presidents Cup team members, 15 players from the top-50 of the Official World Golf Ranking and 18 winners from the PGA TOUR’s 2016-17 season.
Following the commitment deadline on 20 September for PGA TOUR players to enter the USD7 million tournament, the CIMB Classic, which is the sole PGA TOUR event in Southeast Asia featuring an elite 78-man field, will once again showcase a cadre of leading international golfers at TPC Kuala Lumpur from 12 to 15 October.
The major winners who have committed to the eighth edition of the CIMB Classic include Americans Keegan Bradley, Stewart Cink, Jason Dufner, Lucas Glover, Davis Love III, South African stars Ernie Els, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, Irishman Padraig Harrington and of course, Thomas, who has enjoyed an outstanding season with five wins including a first major win at the PGA Championship in August.
Aside from the 24-year-old Thomas and world No. 20 Patrick Reed who will represent Team USA in the Presidents Cup in New Jersey next week, International Team Members Branden Grace, Oosthuizen and Schwartzel of South Africa, Emiliano Grillo of Argentina, Canada’s Adam Hadwin, South Korea’s Si Woo Kim, Anirban Lahiri of India and Venezuela’s Jhonattan Vegas will also star in the CIMB Classic.
Tengku Dato’ Sri Zafrul Aziz, Group Chief Executive, CIMB Group, said, “We are pleased to once again welcome a truly world-class line-up of golfers at this year’s CIMB Classic, which will feature an eclectic mix of 46 PGA TOUR winners ranging from established PGA TOUR champions, veteran stars and emerging young talents. Eighteen players from this group have won tournaments during the 2016-17 season and collectively, the TOUR winners assembling at the CIMB Classic have a combined 140 tournament victories between them, including 14 major victories.
“Without a doubt, our defending champion Justin Thomas will be the hot favourite as he is enjoying a truly spectacular year which began with a successful CIMB Classic defence last October. The strong representation of international golfers which includes 15 players from within the top-50 of the Official World Golf Ranking reinforces the CIMB Classic’s prestige and stature as the leading golf tournament in the ASEAN region.”
World No. 16 Paul Casey of England, the 19th-ranked Rafa Cabrera Bello of Spain, Europe’s Ryder Cup stalwart Ian Poulter, 2011 Masters Tournament winner Charl Schwartzel, this season’s THE PLAYERS Championship winner Si Woo Kim of South Korea and South African star Branden Grace, who wrote golfing history at the British Open by becoming the first man to shoot a 62 in a major in July, have also confirmed their participation in the CIMB Classic.
The 22-year-old Kim will be one of the players to watch as the Korean talent cemented his growing credentials by winning THE PLAYERS Championship in May, which is the PGA TOUR’s flagship tournament. Other players in their 20s who triumphed this year include Wesley Bryan, Cody Gribble, Mackenzie Hughes, Grayson Murray and Kyle Stanley.
India’s Anirban Lahiri, who recently concluded his second season on the PGA TOUR by finishing in 51st position on the FedExCup standings, will chase for the CIMB Classic title again after coming close with a T3 finish last year. He won the Malaysian Open at TPC Kuala Lumpur in 2015 en route to becoming the Asian Tour Order of Merit champion. Chinese rising star Li Haotong, who enjoyed a standout 3rd place finish at the British Open in July after closing with a stunning 63, will also feature in his first CIMB Classic tournament on a sponsor’s invitation.
Veteran swinger Love, who finished T8 in his lone appearance at the CIMB Classic in 2014, will arrive in Malaysia with the most PGA TOUR victories – 21 – under his belt, followed by the “Big Easy”, Els, who holds 19 wins including four major titles.
Apart from 60 being eligible from the PGA TOUR, the top-10 from the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit, as at October 9, will qualify for the CIMB Classic plus eight sponsor’s exemptions. Two of the sponsor’s exemptions will be allocated to Malaysian golfers where veteran Danny Chia has taken the first spot after winning the CIMB National Championship in July.
He will be joined by the highest ranked non-exempt Malaysian on the Official World Golf Ranking as of October 2. Local prospect Gavin Green wil also qualify for the CIMB Classic by virtue of his current third position on the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit.
Advance tickets for the CIMB Classic are now on sale on www.ticketpro.com.my, Ticket Pro sales channels and selected MST Golf Stores in the Klang Valley. Fans who purchase tickets from now until October 8 will enjoy early bird pricing, with tickets costing RM62 each for the first round (Oct 12, Thursday) and second round (Oct 13, Friday). Prices for the third round (Oct 14, Saturday) and final round (Oct 15, Sunday) are RM99 per day. A season ticket for all four rounds are priced at RM199.
The CIMB Classic is also sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Professional Golf Association of Malaysia (PGAM). The premier Malaysian tournament is also the first of three PGA TOUR events in Asia during the month of October.
Justin Thomas (USA)
It was obviously special being able to go back to defend last year. Having won my first PGA TOUR title in Malaysia (in 2015), it’s got a special place in my heart. To go back-to- back last year was awesome. It definitely got my 2016-17 season off to a good start. I somehow have a comforting feeling out there and I seem to do all right. The scores are really low over there. There’s not much wind and I think why I have played so well over there is because I have a lot of wedges and I feel that my wedge game is good. It just seems to be a place where I play well.
Paul Casey (Eng)
I’ve enjoyed competing in the CIMB Classic over the past three years. Playing at TPC Kuala Lumpur and being in Malaysia is always a great experience and I’m hoping to challenge for the title this year. I’ve enjoyed some top-25 finishes over there previously so it would be nice to get my name up on the leaderboard and compete for a win. It’s been a solid year for me with seven top-10s including four top-fives over my last six starts but I am aiming for a win before the end of the year.
Branden Grace (Rsa)
I have enjoyed competing in the CIMB Classic previously and I look forward to returning to TPC Kuala Lumpur which is a wonderful golf course. As professional golfers, we have the opportunity to play in many great places and with the CIMB Classic celebrating its eighth edition, its longevity shows that the game is flourishing in Malaysia and Asia which is terrific news for the players. I'll be going over with the intention to try and win the golf tournament.
Anirban Lahiri (Ind)
It’ll be fun to return to the CIMB Classic. I came close to winning the tournament last year before finishing third and it’ll be my intention to try and produce my best golf again to contend for the tournament. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed playing at TPC KL where I also won the Malaysian Open in 2015, so it’s a golf course which I feel very comfortable on. As the CIMB Classic is part of the new 2017-18 PGA TOUR season, it’ll give players the opportunity to get off to a strong start in the FedExCup race. Looking back, the high finish in Malaysia last year helped set me up for the rest of the season which culminated to me being picked for the Presidents Cup.
Li Haotong (Chn)
I’m really excited to have the opportunity to compete in my first CIMB Classic on the PGA TOUR. I’ve heard it is a great tournament and TPC Kuala Lumpur is a wonderful venue with good facilities for the players. With plenty of FedExCup points and Official World Golf Ranking points at stake in Malaysia, it’ll be important for me to play well to improve my ranking as it is my goal to try to break into the world’s top-50 by the end of the year. I’ve been quite happy with the way I’ve played all year, most notably with the third-place finish at the British Open which was quite memorable. I certainly hope to end the year strongly.