Justin Thomas was named PGA Tour Participant of the Yr for 2016-17 every week in the past at present, definitely a prime spotlight (together with profitable the PGA Championship, his first main) for the fledgling 24-yr-previous professional who’s starting to get his world-class legs beneath him.
Three days later, he already was on a aircraft to Malaysia to start out his 2017-18 season. A lot for all that chilled champagne, pool time and the large exhale. When Thomas left his residence in Jupiter, Fla., on Saturday, he began the timer on his iPhone for the lengthy journey to Kuala Lumpur. When he touched down, his telephone learn 28 hours, 17 minutes, forty six.ninety one seconds. It’s greater than your common puddle bounce, for positive.
On the PGA Tour, there’s all the time good cause to pack the luggage in hopes that they’ll get to their far-away vacation spot. This week’s CIMB Basic, comprising gamers from three excursions (PGA Tour, Asian Tour, PGA of Malaysia) is a $7 million, restricted-area occasion (seventy eight gamers) with no minimize that gives $1.26 million to the winner. For Thomas, the CIMB is the place it began. He gained the event in 2015, amassing his first PGA Tour victory, and once more final October (his second). In eight rounds at TPC Kuala Lumpur, he has been out of the 60s solely as soon as.
Pat Perez is almost twice Thomas’ age (he’s forty one), however he took off for Malaysia final fall for very totally different causes. He was rebounding from surgical procedure to restore a torn labrum in his left shoulder that took away most of his 2016. He had 15 begins on a serious medical extension to maintain his card in 2016-17 – since 2002, his rookie season, he’d by no means misplaced it – however he wasn’t anticipating to play till January 2017, on the Sony Open in Hawaii. When PGA Tour vice-president and CIMB event director Todd Rhinehart phoned Perez final yr and provided him a sponsor exemption, it merely was too good to move up.
Why would Perez, who has 402 profession PGA Tour begins, journey thus far to play in a single event?
“I’ll give you will have two causes,” Perez stated on the Tour Championship. “Free cash, and free (FedEx Cup) factors.”
After which he shortly got here up with one other: “Three, free (aircraft) ticket. I imply, it’s a no brainer. You’ve acquired to go.”
Right here is the collection of dominoes that tumbled for Perez because of his begin in Malaysia:
After opening with a seventy four, he performed his subsequent three rounds in 10 beneath to tie for thirty third. Two weeks later he felt able to play in Las Vegas, the place he tied for seventh, which earned him a spot on the OHL Basic in Mexico in November, and there he gained for the second time in his sixteen-yr profession.
These three weeks completely arrange his season, one which completed with Perez making it to his first Tour Championship. Malaysia, Perez stated wanting again, gave him an opportunity to “get 4 days underneath my belt and get shifting.”
Provides Perez, “The superb factor about it’s I didn’t assume I used to be going to start out till Sony if I didn’t get that spot, so all of this will not have occurred if I didn’t go end seventh in Vegas after which win at Mayakoba, and I used to be already prime three within the FedEx … I imply, who is aware of what would’ve occurred at Sony? I might have gone there and completed sixtieth and gotten two factors, and who is aware of what occurred on the West Coast as a result of I might have felt a bit of extra strain solely with 14 extra begins?”
Who is aware of? He’s glad he acquired on that aircraft to Malaysia.
Three of the seven event winners from the autumn portion of the 2016-17 made it to East Lake and the Tour Championship. A fourth, Brendan Steele (who repeated at Safeway on Sunday), was in place and inside the highest 30 on the Tour’s third playoff occasion, the BMW Championship, earlier than his T-forty four end value him a spot.
Malaysia marks the primary of three PGA Tour occasions that will probably be staged in Asia this month. The CJ Cup at 9 Bridges will debut subsequent week in South Korea, on lovely Jeju Island, adopted by the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, China.
Thomas will tee it up in Korea after Malaysia, then will return house to Florida.
“Once I get there (to Asia), saying it now, it’s onerous to think about how motivated – not motivated, however how ‘prepared’ I’ll be,” Thomas stated shortly earlier than embarking on that 28-hour journey overseas. “However I do know as soon as the gun goes off on Thursday and I’m able to get it firing, then I’ll be able to go, and I’ll undoubtedly get again in that aggressive thoughts-body kind of factor.”
After this two-week stretch, Thomas will play solely as soon as extra in 2017, competing within the small-area Hero World Problem within the Bahamas. The occasion doesn’t begin till Nov. 30, which lastly – lastly – will give him ample time to take pleasure in household, some turkey and ‘Bama soccer earlier than he has to get again to work.
Within the meantime, a 3rd CIMB title would make his break that a lot better. That’s why he’s there.