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The CIMB Classic Preview
Our golf scribe takes a look at the betting for the CIMB Classic.
Brendon Steele’s triumph at the Safeway Open may not have carried quite the same grandeur as, say, a Tiger reboot, but it nonetheless provided enough drama to fittingly announce the arrival of the new season. Paul Casey picked up where he left off from the Fed Ex Cup with another excellent showing in California. Just how the Englishman has revitalised his career is anyone’s guess. I’m sensing a deal for his soul explains everything. Adam Scott and ‘all things American ever’ Patrick Reed bring some star-power as the PGA Tour heads to its only stop in Asia for the season.
The CIMB Classic started life as an unofficial event for its first three years till being assimilated into the tour proper in 2013. The TPC Kuala Lumpur, formerly the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club, was previously the host of the now defunct Malaysian Open on the European Tour. There is water on play on 13 holes while the fairways have a fair amount of undulation. The amount of precipitation from tropical weather means that the greens are always receptive to strong iron play and will invariably result in a birdie festival.
Statistically speaking, length and accuracy off the tee seem less important than finding greens and making putts here. Of the last nine events hosted here, including the Malaysian Open, only three winners have ranked outside the top eight for GIR. En route to victory last season, Justin Thomas was only ranked 30th in GIR, but he did top the putting statistics for the week. Adam Scott will have to work on those frustratingly poor short iron shots if he has a chance of finishing amongst the contenders. Sergio Garcia, Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Branden Grace help to headline a strong supporting field at what is sure to be a potentially exhilarating shoot-out in Kuala Lumpur.
The CIMB Classic | Thursday 20 October - Sunday 23 October 2016 | TPC Kuala Lumpur
2015: Justin Thomas (-26) | 2014: Ryan Moore (-17) | 2013: Ryan Moore (-14)* won in playoff | 2012: Nick Watney (-22) | 2011: Bo Van Pelt (-23)
Paul Casey (9/1), Hideki Matsuyama (10/1), Patrick Reed (10/1), Adam Scott (11/1), Ryan Moore (14/1)
Kevin Na To Win (18/1), To Place (39/10)
Kevin Na was the absolute model of consistency last season, keeping himself in the coveted top thirty slot wire-to-wire. He is one of those guys seemingly destined to be the bridesmaid with his only victory coming in Vegas in 2010. But if he is able to eliminate some of that pre-shot fidgeting that hampers his play, there is no reason why the 33-year-old can’t emerge as a real contender for titles this year. He has excellent history at this event with a tie for 3rd and a memorable tie for 2nd last year behind Justin Thomas. He also finished with an encouraging tie for 7th at the Safeway Open, seemingly placing him perfectly for another tilt at this title.
Kevin Chappell To Win (28/1), To Place (6/1)
I have gone for yet another Kevin. Kevin Chappell has just come off the back of a quietly tremendous season. Of his eight top 10 finishes, four were second place finishes. And we are not talking about satellite tournaments or minor engagements. He managed to finish second at the Players and in the season-ending Tour Championship. He also managed a second place finish at Bay Hill. This is clearly a guy who is due a win and his consistent iron play should stand him in good stead this week.
Scott Piercey To Win (40/1), To Place (17/2)
Having made twelve top 25 finishes last season as well as finishing in a tie for third in last week’s Safeway Open, you would think that 40/1 for a win is an absolute steal for the metronomic Piercey. He was also 14th in the GIR last week as well as being 26th in putting. The entire cocktail points towards another strong showing by a player whom I think could make a major dent on tour this year.
The Man to Beat
Ryan Moore To Win (14/1), To Place (3/1)
Paul Casey is in rarefied form while Patrick Reed and Adam Scott provide some Hollywood glamour for the galleries, but it is the former two time champion of this event that I am signalling out. Of course the odds are much shorter now for the Ryder Cup star, but Moore is in the form of his life and has a fairly indisputable course pedigree. After winning the John Deere Classic last year, Moore went on to be one of the most consistent presences in the Fed Ex Cup. He finished 7th at the Barclays and 8th at the Deutsche Bank, before a runner up crescendo at the Tour Championship. He was magnificent in the Ryder Cup and is my pick to win the tournament.