Thomas relishing Hawaii return

02 January 2018 21:33:57 GMTPlus11

The PGA Tour is back this week with the Tournament of Champions and Justin Thomas will be looking to take the title for the second year running.

Thomas made this event one of his five victories in 2017 as he shot three 67s and a closing 69 to finish three shots clear of Hideki Matsuyama in second.

The American returns to the Plantation Course at Kapalua in Hawaii as a Major champion, having won the USPGA Championship in August, while he's improved to third in the world rankings behind compatriots Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth.

Both Johnson (2013) and Spieth (2016) have also won this limited field 34-player event before and the last seven winners have been from the United States.

Speaking at a media conference last month about why he enjoys the tournament so much, Thomas said: "It's just so fun, really. The course is fun. You can make a lot of birdies on it. The limited field is nice. The rounds go by fast playing in twosomes. It's just a laid-back vibe.

"People aren't really grinding and practicing after their rounds. Just kind of finish up and go to the beach or go to the pool, and great places to eat which is always enjoyable. There's really nothing negative about the tournament."

Meanwhile, Masters champion Sergio Garcia has opted not to play in the event, so that leaves just two Europeans in the field - Jon Rahm and Jonas Blixt.

Rahm qualified by winning the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in California last January, while Sweden's Blixt punched his ticket after teaming up with Aussie Cameron Smith to land the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, which switched to a pairs format for the first time back in May.

Thomas is 7.50 to win the Tournament of Champions again, with Johnson 8.00 and Brooks Koepka 13.00.

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