Thomas ready to be among golf's best

KUALA LUMPUR • American Justin Thomas plans to ride on happy memories at TPC Kuala Lumpur in a bid to retain the CIMB Classic title.

Thomas faces a stellar line-up of stars from the PGA Tour and Asian Tour, including Adam Scott, Patrick Reed, Ryan Moore, Anirban Lahiri and Scott Hend, at the US$7 million (S$9.71 million) event.

"It's great to be back. I've never had the opportunity to come to a tournament as a defending champion before," Thomas told the Asian Tour ahead of today's opening round.

"So just being out there today and my caddie, Jimmy, and I kind of talked about some things that happened last year and just the good vibes we have and the good memories. It's fun.

"Hopefully we can recreate some of those good memories and good things."

The 23-year-old, ranked 35th in the world, arrived in Malaysia in good form, finishing tied eighth last week and joint sixth in the Tour Championship at the end of the PGA Tour's 2015-2016 season.

He was also tied third in the Players Championship earlier in the year and was in the running for a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup.

A close friend to Jordan Spieth, Thomas feels he is ready to break into the world's top echelon, saying last year's success at the CIMB Classic provided the timely career springboard.

"I feel like I have a lot of years ahead of me and hopefully a lot of great years," he said.

"I know what is meant to be is going to happen, but I feel like I have the firepower, I have the game to do some pretty cool and special things out here."

Day 1: StarHub Ch204, 10.30am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 20, 2016, with the headline 'Thomas ready to be among golf's best'. Print Edition | Subscribe