Defending CIMB Classic champion Pat Perez figures there’s something about the tournament, TPC Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia that suits him. The US$7 million PGA Tour event starts tomorrow at TPC Kuala Lumpur’s revamped West Course.
“I love coming here, my caddy loves coming here. We’ve had fun ever since the first time we came a lot of years ago. It’s a fun trip … Todd [Todd Rhinehart, executive director, PGA Tour] does a wonderful job taking care of all of us and organizing everything, we’re very excited to be here.
“I love this course, I love the greens,” said the 42-year-old.
Last October, Perez carded rounds of 66, 65, 64 and 69 at TPC Kuala Lumpur’s West Course for a 24-under-par total, winning the title by four shots from fellow American Keegan Bradley.
In 2016, Perez spent much of the season on the sidelines following shoulder surgery in March. He was given a sponsor’s exemption in that year’s CIMB Classic and finished T33, which provided the impetus for a return to form and he wound up winning the OHL Classic at Mayakoba three weeks later.
“Todd gave me a spot to play in the tournament, which was huge because if I hadn’t played that one I might not have actually played until the Sony Open. And then to come and play here and then finish 7th in Vegas and then win the Mayakoba, that was the starting point for me … so I’m forever grateful to Todd and to the CIMB Classic. Like I said, this is always going to be a special place for me and I’m always excited to be here,” noted Perez.
Perez stressed that the revamped West Course will provide a vastly differing challenge compared to when he won 12 months ago. “My caddie said it was firm and fast and I’m looking forward to that. Like I said last night in the sponsor’s deal, a lot of slopes on the greens haven’t really been in play because it’s so soft … and now when it gets firm you’ll actually have to worry about runoffs and going into some buried lies like that. So I think it’s an awesome change, I’m excited to see it and see what happens.”
Asked what he liked about Kuala Lumpur, Periz quipped: “Nando’s … Nando’s is fantastic! When Sergio was here, he took me to a couple restaurants that were pretty cool and I got to see those, but I haven’t really seen much of the sights. We get up at 5 a.m. every morning and then we’re out here sweating, it’s real hot. I just kind of want to just rest and then eat and get ready for the next day.
“I think KL’s a fantastic town; I just haven’t gotten to see too much of it.”