Kuala Lumpur, September 6: Thomas Pieters and Rafa Cabrera Bello, two of the game’s rising stars, and Major champions Ernie Els and Davis Love III will lend their star credentials in the US$7 million CIMB Classic next month.
Pieters and Cabrera Bello, both ranked in the top 30 of the Official World Golf Ranking, and Els and Love, who hold a combined 40 PGA TOUR victories and five Major titles, have confirmed their participation and will join two-time defending champion Justin Thomas in Southeast Asia’s lone PGA TOUR FedExCup tournament at TPC Kuala Lumpur from Oct. 12-15.
CIMB Classic Executive Director Todd Rhinehart said: “We are delighted to announce that Ernie Els, Davis Love III, Rafa Cabrera Bello and Thomas Pieters have agreed to compete in the CIMB Classic in October. Thomas and Rafa are emerging stars on the PGA TOUR, thanks to their exciting brand of golf and I’m sure Malaysian fans will enjoy watching them in action at TPC Kuala Lumpur. It is also fantastic that we will welcome back Davis and Ernie who are both household names following stellar careers which have seen them winning numerous titles around the world.”
Currently ranked 19th in the world, Cabrera Bello produced a T10 finish in his debut at the CIMB Classic last year and has gone on to enjoy a stellar 2017 campaign with one victory in Scotland in July. He also produced stand-out top-five performances on the PGA TOUR at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, British Open and THE PLAYERS Championship, where he sank a rare albatross on the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass during the final round.
In addition, the powerful 33-year-old Spaniard finished fifth when golf made a welcome return to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro last year and he also represented Europe in the Ryder Cup, securing 2.5 points from three matches.
Pieters, 25, has burst onto the scene as an exciting prospect. With three career wins in Europe, the Belgian long-hitter has enjoyed an impressive season, producing top-five finishes at The Masters, World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship and was T2 at the Genesis Open on the PGA TOUR.
Picked as a Captain’s selection in the Ryder Cup last year, Pieters secured four wins from five matches to emerge as the best European rookie in the tournament’s history. He also placed fourth at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“I’m really excited to be playing in my first CIMB Classic next month. It’s one of the early tournaments of the new schedule and a strong start will bring me valuable FedExCup points for my first full season on the PGA TOUR. The CIMB Classic is being held at a course where I produced my first top 10 as a professional (at the Malaysian Open) back in 2014. The fact that I get to play in a PGA TOUR event that is hosted on this venue brings back a lot of good memories,” said Pieters.
Although Love, 53, now plays regularly on the PGA TOUR Champions in the United States, the American star has shown he can still compete on the PGA TOUR with a recent T10 finish at the Wyndham Championship. A 21-time PGA TOUR winner, Love finished T8 in the 2014 CIMB Classic.
Due to his stellar accomplishments in the game, which include a Major win at the 1997 PGA Championship, and being the victorious captain for the United States team in the 2016 Ryder Cup, Love will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame later this month.
“It’ll be fun to head back to Malaysia for the CIMB Classic. I competed in the tournament in 2014, finishing T8 and I truly enjoyed my time at TPC Kuala Lumpur and also away from the golf course,” said Love.
“Malaysia has a lot to offer and the tournament has certainly built a strong reputation for its warm hospitality and world-class facilities. It’s exciting to be a part of the PGA TOUR’s global efforts to impact the growth of the game in Asia through great tournaments like the CIMB Classic.”
Els, a World Golf Hall of Famer, has been a regular visitor to the CIMB Classic over the years, with a T5 finish at the inaugural event in 2010 being his best finish. A 19-time winner on the PGA TOUR, including four Major victories, the South African veteran will be a fan attraction at TPC Kuala Lumpur due to his smooth swing, which earned him the nickname “The Big Easy.”