By Paul Myers
There are now three tournaments in the books for the 2015-’16 PGA Tour season, and each of them has seen a first-time winner take the title. Emiliano Grillo and Smylie Kaufman, both 23 years of age, won the first two tournaments before the Tour headed to Kuala Lumpur for the CIMB Classic. Amazingly, the winner of this week’s event was even younger than the first two, as 22-year-old Justin Thomas claimed the crown. With an incredible total of 26-under-par for the four round event, Thomas was victorious by a single shot over Adam Scott.
While this is Thomas’ first win on the Tour, very few are particularly surprised by his success. Thomas has been on the radar of serious golf fans for some time, and for more than his well-known friendship with Jordan Spieth. Justin Thomas has serious game, and it is likely that this is just the first of many wins to come.
Finishing Like a Veteran
Thomas lit up the course with an incredible 61 during the second round, a score which could have easily dipped down into the magical 50’s. However, it was the way he finished the job on Sunday that will be most-remembered. After holing out for birdie on the 13th hole, Thomas was in great position to take the crown. However, he made a costly double bogey on 14, which slipped him back to -23 for the event. Unfazed, Justin Thomas reeled off three straight birdies on 15 – 17 before closing with a clutch par putt to seal the deal. There is little doubt that Thomas was churning on the inside while trying to finish it off, but he did so like a true champion – playing the final four holes in three under par.
Good Sign for Scott
One of the big stories of the upcoming golf season is the ban on ‘anchored’ putting, which is affect players like Adam Scott who have used long putters or belly putters for some time. Scott has been gradually working on the switch in advance of the rules change, and his result at the CIMB Classic is a great sign that he is coming along nicely. You can’t shoot 25-under-par without putting well, and Scott’s 63 on Sunday is a sure sign that he is able to handle the pressure while wielding the shorter putter. Going forward into 2016, Scott will be a player to watch if he is able to continue is strong form with the flat stick.
Looking ahead to the coming week, there will be two events taking place from November 5 – 8. The World Golf Championships – HSBC Champions will be held in Shanghai, China, while the PGA Tour will also hold the Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, Mississippi. With many of the world’s top players contesting the WGC event in China, the Sanderson Farms Championship will stand as a great opportunity for a lesser-known player to potentially break through with a big win.