PGA Tour: The CIMB Classic Preview

Golfer lines up iron shot

The Asian swing of the PGA Tour starts in Malaysia this week with the co-sanctioned CIMB Classic. 

The CIMB Classic | 11 October - 14 October | TPC Kuala Lumpur, Malaysisa

This limited field event comprises of 78 players and was formerly the only Asian stop on the PGA Tour (the CJ Cup and WGC HSBC Champions now make it three). Starting as recently as 2010, the first three editions of this event were unofficial and it was only in 2013 that it was incorporated into the PGA Tour proper. The first three incarnations of this event took place at ‘The Mikes’ before a move to its current venue: The TPC Kuala Lumpur, West Course. Justin Thomas headlines the field in what is traditionally a low-scoring birdie-fest due to soft conditions.

The West Course at TPC Kuala Lumpur was designed by Nelson and Haworth and opened in 1991. It was totally redesigned by Ted and Geoff Parslow in 2008. The course is notable for its gently undulating fairways and tepid tree-lined design. This resort course receives a deluge of tropical rain, making it perennially receptive to low scoring. The greens rarely paly more than 12 in the stimp and driving accuracy is largely negligible around here. Finding greens in regulation is far more pressing while Louis Oosthuizen (2012) was the only man who ranked outside the top 12 for putting in the last six editions. Having said that, the putting surfaces change this year from Seashore Paspalum to Bermuda, which may take some adjustment.

Justin Thomas is a two-time champion here and justifiably leads the markets at 9/2. Very rarely on the tour do you see odds that short, but one could argue that they are very rarely as justified as this week. Thomas is perhaps the player who shone brightest in the American Ryder Cup side and he is just a natural champion. Ryan Moore is yet another two-time champion in good form, having lost in a play-off to Kevin Tway in last week’s Safeway Open. Pat Perez returns to defend his title while Paul Casey is in attendance from Europe’s victorious Ryder Cup side.

Past Winners
2017: Pat Perez (-24)
2016: Justin Thomas (-23)
2015: Justin Thomas (-26)
2014: Ryan Moore (-17)
2013: Ryan Moore (-14)*play-off

To Win Outright:
Justin Thomas 9/2 | Ryan Moore 14/1 | Xander Schauffele 16/1 | Paul Casey 16/1 | Billy Horschel 16/1

Value Bets

Cameron Smith- To Win 33/1, To Place 7/1
Aussie Cameron Smith was one of the breakthrough successes on the PGA Tour last season. He enjoyed a brilliant FedEx Cup Playoff campaign, finishing in a tie for third at the Northern Trust before a solo third at the Dell Technologies. He finished in a tie for fifth at Augusta and also has brilliant form at this venue. Smith boasts two tie fifth finishes here out of three starts. That included opening and closing rounds of 64 here last year. He also finished in the top five at the 2014 Selangor Masters, making it three top f finishes out of four visits to Malaysia for the Aussie.

Kevin Na- To Win 40/1, To Place 17/2
42-year-old South Korean Kevin Na could be one to watch this week. Though his recent finishes around this course have been less than stellar- he finished in a tie for 44th here last year and 29th the year prior- Na has shown ability around TPC Kula Lumpur. He finished in a tie for third in 2015 and was a runner-up in 2014. Since his victory at the Greenbrier Na has been on an upward trajectory, making seven out of eight cuts. He has four top 25 finishes in that run and he will always be a contender if that putter runs hot.

Si-Woo Kim- To Win 80/1, To Place 17/1
Si-Woo Kim finished 10th here on debut, making 21 birdies in the process. This was followed by a fairly disastrous return to the course for last year’s edition. But it is intriguing to see how well Kim’s career trajectory correlates with previous winners around here. Former two-time champion Ryan Moore had his first victory at Sedgefield, as did Si-Woo Kim. Both Thomas and Perez boast good form in the CareerBuilder Challenge, another event in which Na has excelled. Kim also has finishes of third and 17th in recent editions of the OHL Classic, and event whose soft, tree-lined fairways match up well to TPC Kuala Lumpur. Furthermore, the switch to Bermuda should benefit Kim when you consider his runaway triumph at Sawgrass last year.

The Man to Beat- Keegan Bradley- To Win 22/1, To Place 48/10
2011 PGA Championship winner and former Ryder cupper Keegan Bradley is a name that is oft lost in the maelstrom of modern golf. The unassuming Bradley has a brilliant record at this course though, boasting three top five finishes in the last four years, including a brilliant runner-up finish last year. The man with course credentials also boasts brilliant form that saw him sniffing around the fringes of the Ryder Cup side. Bradley won his fourth PGA Tour title at the BMW Championship, beating reigning FedEx Cup champ Justin Rose in a playoff.

 Written by Damien Kayat for

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