First-Round Notes – Thursday, October 20, 2016
Weather: Mostly cloudy throughout the day with a few showers and thunderstorms developing in the afternoon. High temperatures in the lower 90s with light wind at 5-10 mph SSW.
Derek Fathauer 64 (-8)
Defending champion Justin Thomas picked up where he left off at TPC Kuala Lumpur in 2015 by starting this year’s event with an 8-under-par 64 to tie for the lead with Derek Fathauer and Keegan Bradley. Thomas set the tournament-record for low 72-hole score at last year’s CIMB Classic (26-under-par) for his first and only win on the PGA TOUR.
With the win in 2015, Thomas became the youngest champion of the CIMB Classic at the age of 22 years, 6 months, 3 days. In the second round last year, Thomas’ bogey-free 61 set a new course record at TPC Kuala Lumpur and matched the tournament record.
Thomas would be the first player since Matt Every to defend his title on the PGA TOUR (2014, 2015 Arnold Palmer Invitational).
In last week’s season-opening Safeway Open, Thomas overcame a 3-over 75 in round one with scores of 66-66-67 to finish T8 with four others at 14-under 274. Last season, Thomas advanced to the FedExCup Playoffs for the second consecutive time in his career, making it to the TOUR Championship for the first time. He entered the Playoffs finale in the No. 12 position in the FedExCup standings and finished T6 at East Lake to end his season No. 12 in the FedExCup standings.
A resident of Jupiter, Fla., Thomas has pledged $250 per birdie in his first three events of the 2016-17 PGA TOUR Season to Convoy of Hope, a disaster-response, non-profit organization providing aid to those impacted by Hurricane Matthew which brought devastation to Haiti, the Bahamas and the southeastern United States. Thomas’ nine birdies in the first round at the CIMB Classic combined with the 23 birdies and one eagle made at last week’s Safeway Open, mean a total of $8,250 in donations thus far. Additional donations for the #MakingBirdiesForMatthew cause can be made at https://www.convoyofhope.org/
Coming off a T15 at last week’s Safeway Open, Derek Fathauer matched his career-low round on the PGA TOUR with an 8-under-par 64 and is tied for the lead. Fathauer was one of the final players to qualify for the CIMB Classic via his ranking from last season’s FedExCup standings.
This is Fathauer’s third time leading or sharing the lead through 18 holes on the PGA TOUR. The past two instances came in 2015 at the Genesis Open and the OHL Classic at Mayakoba where he finished T61 and 4th, respectively. His 4th-place finish at the OHL Classic is his best finish on the PGA TOUR.
After an 8-under-par first round that included eight birdies, an eagle and two bogeys, three-time PGA TOUR champion, and 2011 PGA Championship winner, is tied for the lead with Derek Fathauer and Justin Thomas. This is Bradley’s fourth time holding or sharing a lead through 18 holes on the PGA TOUR. The last time Bradley shared the lead after the first round, he shot 79 in the second round to miss the cut at the 2016 Valspar Championship.
The 64 is Bradley’s lowest opening round since shooting 64 at the 2015 Travelers Championship. Bradley is making his third appearance at the CIMB Classic.
Bradley, the 2011 PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year, was paired with the last two players to win the award in Emiliano Grillo (2015-2016) and Daniel Berger (2014-2015). Grillo finished at 2-over while Berger shot a 1-under-par 71.
Paul Casey’s opening-round 65 puts him in at 7-under par and one shot back of the first-round leaders. The solid start puts Casey in position for his fifth top-five finish in as many starts on the PGA TOUR. At No. 12 in the Official World Golf Ranking, Casey told media at last week’s Safeway Open that he had “unfinished business” after the 2015-16 season. He finished T3 after opening with an 8-under 64 at Silverado Resort & Spa.
With the 7-under-par 65, Casey is now 65-under par in his last 17 rounds on TOUR.
Last season, Casey advanced to the FedExCup Playoffs for the sixth time in his career, making it to the TOUR Championship for the third time. A 4th-place finish at the TOUR Championship meant Casey finished at a career-high No. 5 in the FedExCup standings.
One week after Anirban Lahiri finished the Asian Tour’s Venetian Macao Open with seven birdies to force a playoff before a bogey in the first playoff hole meant a second-place finish, Lahiri birdied six of his first eight holes and was tied for the lead before bogeys on the final two holes bumped him back to 6-under-par, two shots off the lead. The reigning Asian Tour Order of Merit champion returns to TPC Kuala Lumpur with fond memories as he tasted success at the same venue at the Asian Tour and European Tour co-sanctioned 2015 Malaysian Open.
A seven-time Asian Tour winner, Lahiri is making his fifth appearance at the CIMB Classic. After saving his PGA TOUR card, Lahiri will be aiming for a fast start in the FedExCup 2016-17 season.
Fresh off his victory to open the 2016-2017 PGA TOUR season, Brendan Steele shot a 5-under 67. Sergio Garcia also finished at 5-under-par, joined by Brian Harman and Aaron Baddeley.
CIMB Classic and the FedExCup
In its seventh year, the CIMB Classic brings together top players from the PGA TOUR’s FedExCup standing, top players from the Asian Tour Order of Merit and top players from Malaysia. The FedExCup returns to Malaysia with PGA TOUR members receiving official FedExCup points as part of the 2016-17 PGA TOUR season. The CIMB Classic was the first event in Asia to offer full FedExCup points.
In addition to 500 FedExCup points and a two-year PGA TOUR exemption, the winner this week (if not previously eligible) receives invitations to the 2017 Tournament of Champions, a winners-only event in January, along with two major championships (Masters Tournament and PGA Championship) and THE PLAYERS Championship. The player would also earn exemptions into six additional invitational events on the PGA TOUR.
CIMB Group, the title sponsor of CIMB Classic since its inception in 2010, recently announced the extension of its title sponsorship of the golf tournament through 2020. The four-year extension reflects the success of the only official PGA TOUR FedExCup event in Southeast Asia, which is also the richest in the region with a purse of USD7 million. Since it was first staged, the tournament has attracted world class professionals like Tiger Woods, Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia, Ernie Els and Ryo Ishikawa. CIMB Classic, being one of most prestigious and biggest sporting events in the region, has undoubtedly boosted Malaysia’s position as a golfing tourism destination, attracting an audience from all over Asia annually.
TPC Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club (KLGCC) marked another milestone in the club’s history, with its successful acquisition of the licensing rights as Southeast Asia’s first golf facility to join the PGA TOUR’s prestigious Tournament Players Club (TPC) Network. The newly named TPC Kuala Lumpur joins the highly acclaimed network of golf courses affiliated with the PGA TOUR, most of which are based in the US. As home of the CIMB Classic, TPC Kuala Lumpur will also hold the distinction of being Southeast Asia’s first TPC-branded facility to ever host an official PGA TOUR event. In addition to the CIMB Classic, TPC Kuala Lumpur also successfully hosted the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia which will be held the week immediately following the CIMB Classic.
R1: Paul Casey (65), Sergio Garcia (67), Brian Harman (67), Harold Varner III (68), Jamie Lovemark (68), Kevin Na (70), Zach Blair (70)
Scoring Averages at the par-72 Silverado Resort and Spa (North):
Front 9 Back 9 Total Cumulative
Front 9 Back 9 Total Cumulative
R1: 34.885 35.514 70.399