Perez wins CIMB Classic by 4 strokes

AP
Pat Perez burnishes his late-bloomer credentials by cruising to a four-stroke win at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia and grabbing his second PGA Tour victory in a year.
AP
AFP

Pat Perez of the United States poses with the trophy after winning the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on October 15, 2017.

American Pat Perez won the PGA Tour's CIMB Classic, claiming a four-shot victory over compatriot Keegan Bradley on Sunday at TPC Kuala Lumpur.

He sealed his first title in almost a year despite carding a modest 3-under-par 69 in the final round, courtesy of a strong start with three birdies in the first four holes.

The 41-year-old only managed to make par on the back nine, but did enough to finish the tournament with a 24-under 264 to take home the US$1.26 million prize purse and 500 FedEX Cup points.

Victory also earned him an automatic entry for next year's Masters in April.

Perez ended a seven-year trophy drought at last year's OHL Classic and now, in his 403rd start on tour, the 41-year-old becomes the CIMB's oldest winner.

Perez's feat comes after a long recovery from a shoulder injury last year that threatened to derail his career.

The bulky golfer admitted he never expected to reign supreme in the sweltering conditions in Kuala Lumpur.

"Unreal. I think I'm the last guy that expected to win this week, to be honest with you. I did not think I was going to win this week," Perez said. "I really can't explain it, it's been an amazing 12 months. I can't explain it, but I hope it continues."

Perez also confirmed he'll be back to defend his title next year.

"I'll be here every year. Every year of the tournament, I'll be here. It's been very good to me. The tournament's been fantastic," he said.

Bradley took home the runner-up spot after he carded an unblemished 5-under 67 to finish at 20-under 268.

Fellow American Xander Schauffele, who started the round in second place, faltered with four bogeys to finish tied-third alongside South Korea's Kang Sung-hoon at 17 under.

Defending champion Justin Thomas finished tied for 17th place.

Thomas, the PGA Championship title-holder and 2017 PGA Tour Player of the Year, had been in terrific form coming into the event, but failed to lift his game in his mission for a "three-peat".

"I was definitely low on gas. It's been a great but long year, for sure," the American said.

The 24-year-old had a breakthrough season in 2016-17, racking up five wins, including his maiden major victory.

Other favorites at the CIMB also fared poorly, with Japan's Hideki Matsuyama finishing tied for fifth and India's Anirban Lahiri tied for 10th.

The US$7-million CIMB Classic is co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour and Asian Tour.



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