Third-Round Notes – Friday, October 22, 2016
Weather: Mostly cloudy with a high of 89. Wind NW at 4-8 mph.
Anirban Lahiri 66-66-65 – 197 (-19)
Justin Thomas 64-66-71 – 201 (-15)
Russell Knox 70-63-68 – 201 (-15)
Derek Fathauer 64-70-68 – 202 (-14)
James Hahn 69-64-69 – 202 (-14)
Hideki Matsuyama 69-64-69 – 202 (-14)
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, he shot a third-round 65 and holds a four-shot lead over and Russell Knox and Justin Thomas heading into the final round.
Lahiri leads the field in birdies through three rounds, with 25. He leads despite suffering double bogeys in both the second and third rounds, as well as back-to-back bogeys in the first round. Going back to the Venetian Macao Open, Lahiri has made 34 birdies in his last 65 holes.
The PGA TOUR all-time record for birdies in a 72-hole event is 32, set by Mark Calcavecchia (2001 Phoenix Open Invitational) and Paul Gow (2001 B.C. Open). Lahiri needs seven birdies in the final round to tie this mark and eight to set a new record.
The four-shot lead through 54 holes is the largest in the history of the CIMB Classic, the previous record belonging to Ben Crane, who led by two entering the final round in 2010 on his way to victory.
In his second year as a full-time PGA TOUR member, Lahiri’s lowest finish to-par on the PGA TOUR is 14-under, which he accomplished at the 2015 CIMB Classic and the 2016 CareerBuilder Challenge. Lahiri’s best finish is a tie for fifth at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.
Lahiri has played the CIMB Classic at TPC Kuala Lumpur three times prior to this year, recording his lowest round of 67 in the second and third rounds of last year’s event. This year, Lahiri has bested that mark in three-straight rounds, shooting 66-66-65. 64 is Lahiri’s career-low score on the PGA TOUR (2016 CareerBuilder Challenge, round 1). If he goes on to win, Lahiri will have the second-lowest first round score for an eventual champion, the lowest belonging to Ryan Moore, who shot 63 in the opening round in 2013 on his way to two consecutive victories.
Lahiri has played TPC Kuala Lumpur four other times outside of the CIMB Classic, with his best round an 11-under 61.
Lahiri is making his first start of the 2016-17 PGA TOUR season. In his first full year as a PGA TOUR member last year, he made 16 cuts in 21 starts and finished 119th in the FedExCup, good enough to retain his card.
The reigning Asian Tour Order of Merit champion returned 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.
Third-Round Lead Notes
At the CIMB Classic, the third-round leader or co-leader has gone on to win five out of six times, with the only exception Nick Watney, who entered the final round in a tie for seventh in 2012. Interestingly, the CIMB Classic is not known for large margins of victory since its move to TPC Kuala Lumpur, the largest a three-shot win by Ryan Moore in 2014. The largest 54-hole lead at the CIMB Classic was two strokes during the inaugural event in 2010 by Ben Crane, the eventual champion.
In this young PGA TOUR season, 54-hole leaders are 0-1 in converting victory, with Safeway Open third-round leader Patton Kizzire finishing second to Brendan Steele last week.
Russell Knox followed a tournament-low 63 in the second round with a 68 in the third round and is four shots behind Lahiri, tied with Thomas. Knox held the lead through several points in the third round, but a bogey at the 16th saw him fall behind.
In his two career victories, Knox shared the lead entering the final round of the HSBC Champions and was T2 heading into the final round of the Travelers Championship.
Knox is coming off his most successful year on the PGA TOUR, joining Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Adam Scott and Rory McIlroy as the only multiple winners in 2015-16. His strong play led to a seventh place finish in the FedExCup, a career-high finish.
Next week, Knox will defend his first professional title at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions. If he goes on to win the CIMB Classic, he will be the first player to win both of the official PGA TOUR events in Asia in his career.
In addition to his win at HSBC Champions, Knox was able to capture his second victory in August at the Travelers Championship.
The lowest score to-par that Knox has ever finished on the PGA TOUR is 20-under, at his win at HSBC Champions last season, and in 2014 at the CareerBuilder Challenge, where he finished T6.
The second-round 63 was Knox’s lowest round on the PGA TOUR since he shot a 63 in the second round of The Honda Classic in 2014. His career-low round is 62, which he shot at the 2014 BMW Championship.
This is Knox’s second start at the CIMB Classic, he finished T21 last year.
Defending Champion Justin Thomas struggled out of the gates on Saturday, opening his third round with an outward nine 36, and then making three straight bogeys following the turn before righting the ship with five-straight birdies to close. 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. He held the third round lead at 20-under, a tournament record.
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) and the second player to accomplish the feat in CIMB Classic history (2013-14).
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’ six birdies in the third round at the CIMB Classic, combined with the 38 birdies and one eagle made up to this point, mean a total of $11,250 in donations thus far. Additional donations for the #MakingBirdiesForMatthew cause can be made at https://www.convoyofhope.org/donate/makingbirdiesformatthew/.
Hideki Matsuyama made five birdies and two bogeys – on at the par-5 18th – and is four back of the lead held by Anirban Lahiri.
The Japanese player has two career wins, at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide in 2014 and earlier this year at last season’s Waste Management Open. In those victories, he entered the final round third and tied for second.
Matsuyama, who finished 13th in the FedExCup last season, is coming off a win at the Japan Open last week by three shots.
His best finish at the CIMB Classic came last year when he finished fifth; this is his fifth start in the event.
First-round co-leader Derek Fathauer shot a bogey-free 68 in the third round and is T4 with Hahn and Matsuyama, five shots off of the lead of Lahiri.
James Hahn followed up a 64 in the second round with a 69 in the third, putting him in a tie for fourth, five shots off the lead.
Fresh off his victory to open the 2016-2017 PGA TOUR season, Brendan Steele is T9, eight shots off of Thomas’ lead.
Two-time CIMB Classic champion Ryan Moore (2013-14) fired a third-round 70 and is T17, nine shots behind the lead.
Scott Hend matched the lowest round of the tournament set by Russell Knox in the second round, a 9-under 63. Hend is the leader of the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit.
Kevin Na made a hole-in-one with a 7-iron on the 209-yard par-3 eighth hole. It is the third hole-in-one on the PGA TOUR so far this season.
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).
R2: Russell Knox (63), Hideki Matsuyama (64), Justin Thomas (66), Rafa Cabrera Bello (67), Brendan Steele (69), Charles Howell III (69), Miguel Tabuena (69), Robert Streb (70).
R3: Scott Hend (63), John Huh (66), Jim Herman (66), Scott Piercy (67), Derek Fathauer (68), Robert Streb (68), David Lingmerth (68), Chez Reavie (68), James Hahn (69), Paul Casey (70)
Scoring Averages at the par-72 Silverado Resort and Spa (North):
Front 9 Back 9 Total Cumulative
R1: 34.885 35.514 70.399
R2: 34.795 35.525 70.320 70.358
R3: 34.346 35.256 69.602 70.108