Kuala Lumpur: American Ryan Moore is not feeling any pressure when he aims for a third straight victory at the US$7 million CIMB Classic which starts on Thursday.
Moore, who won the prestigious event in 2013 and 2014, said he has nothing to prove when he defends his title against an elite field who includes Major winners Adam Scott of Australia and Ernie Els of South Africa, Spaniard Sergio Garcia and India’s Anirban Lahiri at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club, West course.
“It's almost less pressure in some ways. I won the last two years, so I don't have that much to prove, necessarily. But you always go into tournaments wanting to win, wanting to play well, and that doesn't change,” said Moore.
“I didn't feel great about my golf game last year coming into this tournament and something about this tournament just kind of seemed to bring the best out of me, so I hope that happens for a third time.”
The 33-year-old will be aiming to become the first player since Steve Stricker (2009 to 2011 John Deere Classic) to win three titles in a row. No player has ever achieved a three-peat victory in the same tournament in Asian Tour history.
“It's something I honestly look forward to all year long, obviously, having the success I've had in this tournament. But I just, I enjoy coming here. It's hard to figure out why I've had the success that I have in this tournament or on this course particularly, but I hope it continues,” said Moore, who is a four-time PGA TOUR winner.
The dashing Scott, Masters Tournament champion in 2013, hopes to taste success in his second appearance at the CIMB Classic. He will be playing in his third event in four weeks in Asia which included the Presidents Cup in Korea.
“I think growing up in Australia there's obviously a very close relationship with Asia, and I've always enjoyed playing golf here, and I've had a fair bit of success, I feel, playing in Asia. I feel very comfortable playing up here. I enjoy the enthusiasm of all the fans and I hope to have a little more success this week,” said Scott, former ranked number one in the world but now ranked 16th.
He knows a win will set him up on his way to regaining the world number one ranking. “Yeah, I think I have a good understanding of what I need to do to get back in that position. This year's been a bit of a transitional period in my life and also on the golf course.
“There wasn't a great deal of consistency in my golf this year. And I think that was the difference between the previous years. I was extremely consistent. Things were always moving in the right direction, and that's where I have to get back to, to build the confidence and keep putting good score after good score together to compete with the likes of Jason Da, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy at the top of the world,” said Scott.
Els, who is among six Major champions in the CIMB Classic field, is wary of the strong Asian Tour challenge led by current Order of Merit leader Lahiri.
“I'm an ambassador for the Asian Tour and I love doing that. I've been playing here for a long time and to see where the players have come from, some of the players back in the day, they have come a long way now. You've got guys making Presidents Cups now from the Asian Tour, you see guys playing Major Championships, basically they are covering the globe as players,” said Els, a four-time Major winner.
World number 11 Garcia hopes to go one better at the CIMB Classic where he finished tied second last year and tied 11th in the 2013 showpiece.
“I managed to play well both years here, so always exciting to come to Asia at the end of the year, which is the beginning of the season for the PGA TOUR. I just managed to play well both years. It's the kind of course that you have to drive the ball well,” said Garcia.
“It's just a matter of getting in a rhythm and going through the routine and everything that you do and at the end of the day it's just trusting yourself, believing that you are able to hit the shots and then just do it,” he added.