Kuala Lumpur, Nov 1 (IANS) American Justin Thomas underlined his status as a rising golfer when he claimed an impressive one-stroke win at the $7 million CIMB Classic with a tournament record of 26-under-par 262 here on Sunday.
The 22-year-old, the joint third round leader, closed with a six-under-par 66 which included a double bogey on the 14th hole to edge out Major champion Adam Scott of Australia, who signed off with a sparkling 63, for his first PGA Tour title.
Co-overnight leader Brendan Steele of the United States shot a 68 to settle for tied third alongside countryman Kevin Na, who claimed his third straight top-three finish after posting a 67 in the event sanctioned by the PGA Tour and Asian Tour.
Japanese Hideki Matsuyama was the best placed Asian in fifth place after a 67 while Anirban Lahiri of India finished tied 21st at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club’s West Course to put one hand on Asian Tour’s Order of Merit crown.
Thomas overcame a wobble on 14 with three successive birdies to take a one-shot lead into the par five 18th hole with Scott already in the clubhouse.
He ran his first putt five foot past the hole to give the Aussie a glimmer of hope of a play-off but then coolly converted his par putt to pocket a cool $1.26 million cheque. Thomas is expected to break into the world’s top-30 with his career breakthrough victory.
“It was really nice to make those birdies after that double on 14. I’m probably more proud of that than winning the tournament. The only thing you could do is what I did, just laugh it off. It was that bad of a shot in the circumstance,” said Thomas of his mishit approach shot.
“I told myself I had four holes left, that I was leading at that point, fortunately, and if I was tied or one back when that happened it would have been a huge deal. I really felt very calm and great all day. The only time I really was nervous and jittery was on 18 probably hitting that bunker shot. And obviously the putt, if you couldn’t tell by how far past I hit it (first putt).”
262 – Justin Thomas (USA) 68-61-67-66.
263 – Adam Scott (AUS) 68-66-66-63.
264 – Brendan Steele (USA) 67-63-66-68, Kevin Na (USA) 67-66-64-67.
266 – Hideki Matsuyama (JPN) 65-66-68-67.
267 – James Hahn (USA) 70-65-64-68.
269 – Scott Piercy (USA) 62-69-69-69, Brian Harman (USA) 70-63-66-70.
270 – Tony Finau (USA) 71-67-66-66.
271 – Charles Howell III (USA) 66-72-67-66, Jim Herman (USA) 70-66-68-67, Patrick Reed (USA) 68-68-66-69, Ryan Moore (USA) 67-69-66-69.
272 – Daniel Summerhays (USA) 71-66-69-66, Cameron Tringale (USA) 70-68-65-69, David Lingmerth (SWE) 73-65-64-70.
273 – Branden Grace (RSA) 67-70-69-67, Stewart Cink (USA) 68-64-70-71, Alex Cejka (GER) 66-71-66-70, Spencer Levin (USA) 67-64-68-74.