Justin Thomas aims to win 3 out of 4 years in Malaysia

FILE - In this Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018 file photo, Justin Thomas tees off on the 14th hole during the first round of the Northern Trust golf tournament in Paramus, N.J. Tiger Woods finished off the PGA Tour season by tapping in for par to win the Tour Championship, a moment that ended any doubts that he could win again after four surgeries on his lower back. And then the moment was gone as the Ryder Cup began. Overlooked from last season was Justin Thomas being first player to win consecutive money titles since Woods, and Woods winning a fifth tournament in three decades. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Justin Thomas returns this week to the scene of his first PGA Tour win in 2015, and where he repeated as champion a year later.

Now the American, fresh from winning the PGA Tour money title for the second consecutive year, begins play Thursday in the CIMB Classic aiming for his third win in four years at the tournament, and his 10th on tour.

"This is always going to be a special place for me," Thomas said Wednesday of the TPC Kuala Lumpur West Course. "This is always going to be the place I got my first PGA Tour victory and that's very, very special. Every time I look at that trophy in my office at home, it brings back a lot of memories."

Thomas won the tour money title this year with $8,694,821, the first back-to-back winner of the award since Tiger Woods in 2006 and 2007.

He likes his chances of beating 2017 champion Pat Perez, Brandt Snedeker, Keegan Bradley and 2013 and 2014 winner Ryan Moore, who are among the starters in the CIMB field this week.

"I feel fresher and I would like to hope that's from the work that I've put in off the course or off-weeks, in my work in the gym and making sure I'm staying rested," Thomas said. "I think I have an opportunity to play well and hopefully knock off a win or two."

Perez picked up more than half — 56 percent — of his FedEx Cup points from the three tournaments in Asia last year which also included stops in South Korea and Shanghai.

"I played phenomenal last year, I putted incredible and I'm going to have to do that again," Perez said. "Every year the field gets better and better and the players get better."

Prize money at Kuala Lumpur totals $7 million, with $1,620,000 to the winner.

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More AP golf: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Golf

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