Ryan Moore aiming for third CIMB Classic title

Ryan Moore is in a pretty good place heading into this week's CIMB Classic.

Over the past month, he finished second at the Tour Championship, losing to Rory McIlroy in an epic playoff, and followed that by winning the deciding match for the United States at the Ryder Cup.

This week he returns to Malaysia to compete on a TPC Kuala Lumpur course where he already owns two wins, so there is no question his confidence is at an all-time high.

"Golf is all about confidence, and the better you play, you just keep getting more and more of it," Moore said. "It makes you feel good, especially coming to a course that I've had success on and I feel good on to begin with."

Moore is part of a strong 78-player field that includes defending champion Justin Thomas, major champions Adam Scott, Keegan Bradley, Ernie Els and Vijay Singh, along with Ryder Cuppers Sergio Garcia and Patrick Reed. Hideki Matsuyama is coming off a three-shot win at the Japan Open.

The field also includes Brendan Steele, who won the season-opening Safeway Open last week in Napa, Calif., and England's Paul Casey, who finished third. Steele tied for third at last year's CIMB Classic. Casey has finished no worse than fourth in his last four PGA Tour starts.

Thomas earned his first PGA Tour title in Malaysia last year when he birdied three of the final four holes to set a tournament record at 26 under par. That included a second-round, 11-under 61. Thomas went on to finish eighth in the FedExCup standings and almost make the Ryder Cup team.

"I'll take 26 under right now if I could every time we play," Thomas said. "You never know what can happen. It's a place where someone can really get rolling and go two or three days and shoot some really, really low scores."

Conditions are typically good for low scores in Kuala Lumpur. The course is short (6,985 yards, par 72), the fairways are large, and there is very little rough. The result has been a putting contest.

"The scoring was quite a bit lower (last year), and that was because there wasn't any rough," Moore said. "That is where the difference in scoring happened last year. It looks like it's going to be, again, very similar to that, so we'll probably see a little better scoring again this year."

Moore has seen the scores drop. He won the tournament in 2013 by shooting 14 under. He won in 2014 by shooting 17 under.

"Then I shot 17 under last year to lose by nine," he said. "That's a big difference, and the rough is that difference. It was really long and really difficult to hit out of those first two years. In the last couple years, it's just not punishing."

Points scored during the tournament, which became an official PGA Tour event four years ago, count toward the FedExCup standings. The $7 million purse is the largest in the region.