PGA Tour: The CIMB Classic

Golfer lines up shot

We preview the CIMB Classic set to get underway on Thursday 12 October at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.

This will be the 8th staging of this event and the 5th time that the event will award FedEx Cup points. It is a co-sanctioned PGA Tour and Asian Tour event, and an American has won this event for the last 4 editions. The event is the beginning of a three-event Asian swing that may not quite draw the same level of competition this year owing to the President’s Cup. Two-time defending champion and recently crowned PGA Tour Player of the Year Justin Thomas is the sure-fire favorite and will be looking to start his new PGA campaign with the same fervor as he ended his last one.

The CIMB Classic | 12 October - 15 October | Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club

The Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club is located a mere 8 kilometers from the heart of the city. The West Course was opened in 1991 and was designed by Nigel Howarth. The course was completely redesigned by famed architects E&G Parslow in 2008. It is a parkland style course with water in play on 13 holes. It isn’t exactly prodigious at a touch over 7,000 yards and players will be looking to smash the ball down the undulating fairways, hoping to exploit the generous par 5 courses.

Hideki Matsuyama will be hoping to avenge a few near misses to Justin Thomas and will know that this is a huge season for him. He will want to convert those close calls in Majors before he gets saddled by a Lee Westwood style block. Clearly Justin Thomas will be the huge favorite, while PGA Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele hopes to maintain the momentum that he generated in the FedEx Cup playoffs.

Past Winners
2016: Justin Thomas (-23)
2015: Justin Thomas (-26)
2014: Ryan Moore (-17)
2013: Ryan Moore (-14)*playoff
2012: Nick Watney (-22)

To Win Outright
Justin Thomas 4/1, Hideki Matsuyama 9/1, Paul Casey 12/1, Xander Schauffele 25/1, Brenden Steele 28/1

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Value Bets

Scott Piercy- To Win 45/1, To Place 19/2
The ever consistent Piercy’s 2016/2017 season ended in somewhat disappointing fashion, but you can expect him to be highly competitive at an event that he has thrived in. He has 3 top 10 finishes in as many starts, and he warmed up well for this event with a tie for 17th at the season opener at Silverado. He was 5th for strokes gained putting at Silverado and T5th for birdies shooting. He seems to have the right skill set and attitude to make a play this week, especially considering the somewhat thinner field.

James Hahn- To Win 50/1, To Place 11/1
Looking for a man with good course form is always a winning strategy, and in that instance James Hahn looks like outstanding value at 50/1. Hahn finished down on his debut in the event in 2014, but had encouraging turns in both 2015 and 2016. In both years he sat in 4th place going into the final round, ultimately finishing 6th and 9th respectively. Considering that the field this year will be a touch weaker than previous years, this could represent a good opportunity for Hahn to finally convert one of those starts into a real result.

Hao Tong-Li- To Win 60/1, To Place 13/1
One to look out for is the man who was only bested by Kuchar and Spieth at the Open Championship. Few can forget that closing round of 64 that lit up Royal Birkdale. European Tour aficionados will remember him as the man who won last year’s China Open. Since that Open he he missed a few cuts on the PGA Tour, before an encouraging top 25 finish at the Portugal Masters. He was also in the top 25 of the British Masters before fading in the final round. He also had a T5 finish the last time he teed it up in Malaysia- at the co-sanctioned Maybank Championship. So there seem to be a lot of reasons to suggest that he may be able to compete with the best again. 

The Man to Beat- Charl Schwartzel- To Win 28/1, To Place 6/1
If the same Justin Thomas is to appear who romped to FedEx Cup victory, then everyone else may be competing for that runner-up spot. But I can’t- in good consciousness- back a man at 4/1. The free-swinging South African need only improve slightly on his recent form to be a huge factor in this heavily truncated field. He finished inside the top 30 in all three FedEx Cup Playoff starts, and picked up an excellent victory over Matt Kuchar in the final day of the President’s Cup. He also finished 6th at TPC Kuala Lumpur in 2012 on the European Tour- fresh from Augusta, and he managed a credible 19th place finish in his sole start in this event. His two PGA Tour victories have come at similarly tree-lined courses- Copperhead and Augusta National- and he looks like excellent value for the upper end of the market.

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets

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