This week the PGA Tour makes it first stop of the season outside the U.S. The players will be teeing it up in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for the 2016 CIMB Classic.
There are 78 players in this limited field, no cut event. Since 2013 this event has been co-sanctioned by both the Asian and PGA Tours.
TPC Kuala Lumpur, 7,0006 Yards, Par 72
Over the summer, Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club joined the TPC network.
This course has hosted the CIMB Classic since 2013 and also the Maybank Malaysian Open, first in 2006 and then again between 2010-2015.
Since 2013 when this venue first hosted the CIMB Classic, the winning scores have been -26, -17 and -14. The scores have got progressively lower, and whilst the winning score may not be around the -26 mark again, players will clearly still need to go low.
As aforementioned, Kuala Lumpar Golf & Country Club also hosted the last six renewals of the Malaysian Open. The winning scores there have also been low (-16, -18, -13, -17, -16 and -14).
What will it take to win the CIMB Classic?
This a course that is there for the taking, so making plenty of birdies is important. To do this, hitting Greens in Regulation and good approach shots are key.
Converting chances with the flat-stick is always important, but players can hit it close enough to take the pressure off here.
Given that this is technically just the second event of the season, it would be better to look at stats from “last season”.
Whilst this is a small field, to me it looks pretty strong. Due the names at the head of the betting, there is plenty of value across the board.
Paul Casey, Patrick Reed and Hideki Matsuyama all head the betting at 14/1. Hot on the tails are Ryan Moore and Adam Scott at 16/1. Moore is going for his third win in this event, whilst Scott will want to better his runner-up effort in 2015. Justin Thomas was the man to deny Scott last year and will look to go back-to-back here. Thomas (18/1) has every chance of doing jut that, after finishing 8th and 6th in his last two events.
We have seen in the past that the wrap-around season throws up some unlikely winners, so something similar may happen this week. There appears to be great value across the board, so you can take a chance on a value outsider as well as those nearer the head of the betting.
With this in mind, here are my betting and DraftKings selections.
Ryan Moore 16/1 (Betfair, Betfred, 1/4 5 places/PaddyPower 1/5 6 places)
Moore is so ridiculously obvious this week, he looks impossible to leave out. In three attempts around TPC Kuala Lumpur, Moore has two wins and a T10.
2016 was a dream year for Moore, and he is in incredible form. He won his fifth PGA Tour event at the John Deere Classic and finished 2nd at the Tour Championship. Moore could not have asked for a better time to be playing his favourite event.
Those two big performances were enough to convince Captain Davis Love III to pick him for the American Ryder Cup team and it paid off. Moore finished the week at Hazeltine with 2 points from three matches, in what was a stellar debut.
Although he is amongst the favourites, he still looks incredible value and I would argue he should be favourite. Those ahead of him in the betting are playing great, but no one can match Moore’s course form.
Gary Woodland 33/1 (Betfair 1/4 odds 5 places/PaddyPower 1/5 6 places)
Woodland played very well in the FedEx Cup play-offs, finishing 4th at The Barclays, backed up by a T15 at the Deutsche Bank Championship. A T24 at the BMW Championship and a T10 at the Tour Championship also followed.
He should have won the Barracuda Championship, but failed to get over the line, making it three years without a win. This is an obvious concern for someone who is only 33/1 and his only real downside.
The long-hitter constantly reminds us however just how talented he is and surely it is only a matter of time before he wins again.
In 2015, Woodland finished a disappointing T56 after an opening round of 75. He did post two sub-70 rounds on Friday and Saturday but the damage was already done.
Before last year though, Woodland had been spectacular in this event. In 2013 and 2014 he finished 2nd on both occasions, both times losing out to Moore. One of those losses came in the shape of a play-off so he’s been incredibly close to taking the title home here.
Given the form he was in during the play-offs, and generally throughout 2016, a return to Kuala Lumpur looks to have come at the perfect time.
Si-Woo Kim 66/1 (Betfair 1/4 odds 5 places/PaddyPower 1/5 odds 6 places)
Si-Woo Kim had an exceptional Rookie season, finishing with a win, a 2nd and five top-10’s in total.
At the age of 21, Kim has plenty of room to improve, but doesn’t need to do a whole lot of it to win this week. Kim won the Wyndham Championship a little over two months ago and has played well since.
Following the win, he missed the cut at this first FedEx Cup event, The Barclays. He found form again after that though, finishing 15th at the Deutsche Bank Championship, 20th at the BMW Championship at 10th at Tour Championship.
The Korean has talent in abundance and he looks in good shape to add to his first PGA Tour win very quickly. Kim shot -18 to make it into the play-off at the Barbosol Championship and followed that up with a -21 score that won him the Wyndham, so he can clearly go low.
Kim hasn’t played this course or this event yet, but he finished 2nd two week’s ago at KJ Choi’s Invitational so he is clearly in good enough form to contend here.
Jim Herman 200/1 (General)
At 200/1, Herman looks well overpriced and if nothing more a value loser.
I see him as more than that though. Last year, on his course debut, Herman finished T10, shooting -17 on the week. This score would have been enough to win two of the last three renewals of this event. If he can repeat his score from last year he could well contend.
Herman won the Shell Houston Open earlier this year, outlasting one of the World’s best in the form of Henrik Stenson. This can only boost his confidence and his chances of repeating or eclipsing his performance here in Malaysia last year.
Whilst he didn’t do enough to make it to East Lake, Herman went fairly well in the FedEx Cup play-offs with two top-24th place finishes as well as a T33. Herman hasn’t teed it up since, so will be well rested but hopefully not too rusty.
As ever I will be sprinkling my lineups with the players above, but here are some others I like at their respective salaries.
Adam Scott at $10,900 is my most expensive play this week.
Scott played superbly during the 2015/16 season, winning twice and also adding two 2nd place finishes. One of those 2nd’s came here, when he finished one shot adrift of Justin Thomas.
In addition to his winning form, the Aussie was consistent, making all 20 cuts on the PGA Tour last season. He did miss his first cut in what seems like forever in Japan last week, but I think that can be ignored.
Scott returns to Kuala Lumpur after finishing 4-4-4-8 in the four FedEx Cup play-off events. This is a great shot at redemption for the World No.6.
Hideki Matsuyama, Patrick Reed and Paul Casey should all be popular picks this week, but Scott and Ryan Moore are both cheaper and the two will both feature as the top pick in many of my line-ups.
If you wanted to look beyond the 10k range completely, Kevin Na at $9,900 is a very solid starting point. Na has finished 3rd and 2nd in two starts here and finished 7th last week at the Safeway Open.
Na was exceptional in 2016 finishing with two 2nd’s, two 3rd’s, and 8 top-10’s in total. He now needs to take advantage of this rich vein of form and get his first win since 2011.
He generally starts his season well and last year he finished, 2nd, 2nd and 3rd in his opening three events. The CIMB Classic may pose his best chance of winning all season, so let’s hope he plays like it.
To the 8k range now and Scott Piercy is first up at $8,900. Another player who had a big 2016 but failed to win. Piercy was unlucky to run into a brilliant Dustin Johnson at both the WGC-Bridgestone and the U.S. Open where he finished runner-up to Johnson on both occasions.
This week though he does not need to worry about Johnson. Piercy should be able to build on the experience he gained here last year when finishing 7th and contend again. After shooting a -10 (62) opening round last week, Piercy looked destined to pick up his 4th PGA Tour title. He had to settle for 3rd in the end, but he proved he is still in great form. Given his showing last week, and form this past year in general, he looks a good pick on this course.
Another I like in this range is Tony Finau at $8,100. Finau, who is mainly known for his distance off the tee will look to build on his top-10 here last year. There is more to his game than just distance and a second PGA Tour win will go a long way to proving that.
In his season opener he finished 26th at the Safeway Open, with four steady rounds. He will be looking for a couple of lower rounds this week to contend.
Finau shot -18 here last year, and finished the week -12 when he won his first PGA Tour event in Puerto Rico. He will be hoping for another big week outside of the U.S. this week.
Now for those you can turn to when you need some cheaper options.
Brian Harman played very well during the FedEx Cup play-offs and can go well again this week. He played in his first CIMB Classic in 2015, finishing 7th and a repeat performance would make his $7,200 salary look very reasonable.
Harman did miss the cut last week, but had also finished 56-MC in the two events leading into the CIMB Classic last time around. I see no reason why the same can’t happen this time around.
Billy Hurley, who was forced to withdraw from the Safeway Open last week looks a nice pick at $7,100. There is the risk that he is playing hurt, but I am hoping the week off last week was enough.
Hurley got his first PGA Tour win at the Quicken Loans National last year and also finished in the top-8 at the Deutsche Bank Championship during the FedEx Cup play-offs.
He finished 8th here in 2015 which was enough for me to put him in some lineups.
After missing the cut last week, Charles Howell III may not look that appealing but at $7,000 I think he is worth a look. He made a 9 on the par-5 9th which cost him dearly last week, so therefore had the weekend off.
In two starts here, Howell has finished in the top-10 on both occasions (10th in 2015 and 7th in 2013). He finished 70th at the Shriners Hopsital Open last year before finishing 10th here, so hopefully history can repeat itself.
Time to look at the sub-7k range. I like the duo of John Senden and Chez Reavie at $6,600 and $6,300 respectively. Both players played solidly if not unspectacularly last week, which was also the story of their 2016.
Both have relatively decent upside and Senden has actually finished 37th and 7th in two starts here. This is Reavie’s debut on this course, but there is no reason to believe he can’t play the course well. Despite finishing outside the top-20 last week, Reavie managed to accumulate 81.0 fantasy points. Given he is just $100 more expensive than the minimum salary this week, I think he is worth chancing.