Saturday, July 21, 2018

Justin Thomas repeats as PGA's CIMB Classic winner

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Justin Thomas completed a fairy tale return to the CIMB Classic with a successful title defense after eight birdies in the final round Sunday earned him a three-shot victory over Hideki Matsuyama.

The American did not match his record tournament score of 26-under 262 in 2015, but he still finished with an impressive 23-under 265 after a final round 8-under 64 for his second PGA Tour title.

"It's great to win again here," he said. "It's a place I'm comfortable with. … Hopefully I will be able to come back next year."

Matsuyama shot 66.

Anirban Lahiri, who led the field by four shots going into the final round, lost ground after a quadruple bogey on the third hole, where his tee shot went into a tree. He recovered with a birdie and an eagle in the next two holes, but the early setback meant Lahiri (72) had to settle for a tie for third with Derek Fathauer (67) at 19 under.

"I got unlucky with the tee shot and just compounded my errors. My short game again, coming up a little bit to bite me," Lahiri said.

Marc Leishman (66) finished at 17 under , and Keegan Bradley (68) was 16 under.

Thomas, 23, also put in a solid showing at the previous week's Safeway Open, the tour's season-opener, finishing just four strokes off the lead.

"I feel like I just need to continue to build on this momentum and try to use this as kind of a springboard to the start of the year," he said, "to try to move up in the world rankings and get in that top ten, get in that top five."

Widely regarded as one of golf's up-and-coming young players, Thomas's deft wedge play and approach shots were a major plus in Malaysia's heat and humidity, which created ideal conditions for scoring.

LPGA: Minjee Lee got up-and-down one last time at Jian Lake to win the Blue Bay LPGA in Hainan, China, for her second victory of the year and third in 17 months. Lee, who led after the third round with Jessica Korda, chipped to 3 feet from the front runoff area on the par-5 18th to match Korda's birdie for 2-under 70 and a one-stroke win over the American at 13-under 275. Lee's chip left Korda with an 18-footer for eagle from off the back edge to get into a playoff; she missed to the left for 71. Ariya Jutanugarn (70), going for a tour-high sixth win, was third at 11 under. Seminole's Brittany Lincicome (71) was at par 288.