After easing into the new 2017-2018 season in wine country at last week's Safeway Open, the PGA Tour heads overseas this week for the first of two tournaments co-sanctioned with the Asian Tour. First up is the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, where Titleist Brand Ambassador Justin Thomas (Pro V1x) has a chance to be the first PGA Tour player to win an event three straight times since fellow Titleist Brand Ambassador Steve Stricker did it at the John Deere Classic from 2009-2011.
Thomas won his first PGA Tour title at the 2015 CIMB Classic, setting a tournament-record low of 26-under-par 262 at TPC Kuala Lumpur and posting a course-record 61. He captured his second Tour title here a year later when he played his last 23 holes in 13-under-par. And now he's got the rare opportunity for a PGA Tour three-peat
Thomas's caddie, Jimmy Johnson, who happened to be on the bag when Stricker achieved his PGA Tour three-peat, thinks that driving has been the key to his Thomas's success on the par-72, 7,005-yard layout at TPC Kuala Lumpur.
"I just think the course suits his eye," Johnson said, "because when we get there, he just starts driving the ball really well for some reason. He has a lot of wedges in his hands, and he’s great with wedges.”
For his part, Thomas noted that he likes to travel abroad and Malaysia is one of his favorite destinations. The 2017 PGA Tour Player of the Year also gave some insight into a clear-minded approach that has allowed him to play so freely at the CIMB.
"I feel like Jimmy and I, we have a good game plan for it, Thomas said. "It's not a course you have to overthink. It's all in front of you. Just hit here, hit there and make the putt and beat everybody else."
Pretty simple game plan. Good luck tripling up this week in Malaysia, Justin!
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Let's take a look at the equipment Justin Thomas will be trusting this week in defense of his CIMB Classic title.
Golf Ball: Pro V1x
Driver: 917D2 (8.5º)
Fairways: 917F2 (15º)
Irons: 718 T-MB (2), 718 MB (4-9)
Wedges: Vokey Design SM6 pitching (46.08 F-grind), Vokey Design SM5 gap (52.12 F-grind) and sand (56.14 F-grind) wedges, and Vokey Design SM6 lob (60.12 K-grind) wedge
Putter: Scotty Cameron Prototype Futura X5.5
TITLEIST BY THE NUMBERS
Of the 78 players in the limited field at this week's CIMB Classic, 64% are trusting a Titleist Pro V1 or Pro V1x golf ball for their success, more than four times the nearest competitor with 15% and more than all competitors combined.
Titleist is also the top choice in iron sets (33%). Vokey Design Wedges are also tops in the approach, sand and lob wedge (54%) category and Scotty Cameron leads the putter category, with 45% of the field trusting a Scotty Cameron model.
NOTES FROM THE TOUR
Why It's In The Bag - Cameron Smith
Titleist Brand Ambassador Cameron Smith (Pro V1x) finished the first round of the 2017 CIMB Classic with a one-stroke lead, shooting a bogey-free 64 with 5 birdies on his opening nine.
Smith, originally from Brisbane, Australia, has played quite a bit of golf in Asia. His performance off the tee and into the green showed his confidence on Thursday at TPC Kuala Lumpur hitting 12/14 fairways and all but two of the greens in regulation (16/18).
Smith recently switched to the 718 AP2 irons (4-9), from the 718 T-MB irons after the Dell Technologies Open (TPC Boston). He loved the look and feel of the 718 T-MB but after a few events with them felt he needed to reign in his distance on shots into the green, noticing his shots were consistent but carrying further than he preferred. He did decide to keep the 718 T-MB 3-iron in the bag, feeling confident in the extra distance it provided and how well it helped his gapping into his 917 F2 3-wood.
Titleist Irons are again the #1 iron in play and 718 AP2 is the most played Titleist iron in the field this week at the 2017 CIMB Classic.
Welcome to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia!
Exotic location, exotic cuisine.
Justin Thomas arrived early to get started on his title defense.
A great eagle from Titleist Brand Ambassador Jason Dufner…
…and another from Titleist Brand Ambassador Kevin Na.
Titleist Pro V1 loyalist Pat Perez is also playing well in Malaysia. It looks like he’s been working on his salute to the crowd.
Titleist Brand Ambassador Adam Scott has a new Instagram Account and he checked in this week with a cool take on his Titleist staff bag.
Finally, some cool Tour player reactions to the new AP3 irons: