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BlogCIMB Classic Preview and Picks

CIMB CLASSIC

October 25 – 27, 2013

Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Par: 72 / Yardage: 6,951

Purse: $7 Million

with $1,260,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Nick Watney

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 18 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings, with the highest rank player being #3 Phil Mickelson.   The other top 50 players are #15 Keegan Bradley, #19 Sergio Garcia, #24, Ernie Els, #26 Bubba Watson, #27 Nick Watney, #28 Bill Haas, #29 Hideki Matsuyama, #32 Rickie Fowler, #33 Graham Delaet, #34 David Lynn, #35 Billy Horschel, #36 Jonas Blixt, #37 Kevin Streelman,  #43 Jimmy Walker, #44 Bo Van Pelt, #45 Ryan Moore and #50 Boo Weekley.

The field includes 10 of the Top 25 on last year’s final FedEx point standings for 2013.  Those players include #8 Graham DeLaet, #9 Phil Mickelson, #15 Nick Watney, #16 Billy Horschel, #18 Keegan Bradley, #21 Roberto Castro, #22 Sergio Garcia, #23 Gary Woodland, #24 Bill Haas and #25 Kevin Streelman.

The field includes 10 players in the top 25 on last year’s PGA Tour money list, #4 Phil Mickelson, #11 Keegan Bradley, #12 Jason Day, #13 Billy Horschel, #14 Bill Haas, #17 Kevin Streelman, #21 Graham DeLaet, #22 Boo Weekley, #23 D.A. Points and #24 Nick Watney.

The field includes 2 of the 3 past champions: Nick Watney (2012) and Bo Van Pelt (2011).

A good cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmakers in England.

Another cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmaker in Las Vegas.

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Who’s Hot in the field for the CIMB Classic

Player Shriners Hospitals ISPS Handa Perth International Frys.com Open Portugal Masters Dunhill Links Tour Championship Open D’Italia Lindt BMW KLM Open Deutsche Bank European Masters Barclays Classic Wyndham

How Player Rankings are Computed

Please go to this link for who is hot and not

The Buzz:

So after three years as a non-official event, the CIMB Classic finally gets full status as a full fledge PGA Tour event.  That means all money is official, the start will be official with full FedEx Cup points awarded.  Most of all it will be an official win, something that the last three winners Ben Crane, Bo Van Pelt and Nick Watney didn’t get.

Now this isn’t your run of the mill event, first it’s 9,200 miles from Las Vegas and will take almost 24 hours to get there.  Making things even tougher, for a player that played on Sunday in Vegas he would have to get to either L.A. or San Francisco on Sunday night and then endure a close to 24 hour flight to Kuala Lumpur.  With the 12 hour time change and going over the international dateline that means you would get in about midnight Tuesday night/Wednesday morning.  Between that and a major dose of jet-lag, I would say that the winner probably won’t be one that played Sunday at the Shriners.

So why did it take so long for this to finally be a full time event?  The PGA Tour had it’s hands tied, because they really couldn’t make this event and the WGC-HSBC which will be played next week in China full events because of the ramifications.  There is so much money in these two events and since they aren’t full field events a lot of the bottom feeders that had to work hard to keep their PGA Tour card would be at a disadvantage.   Now with the wrap-around schedule these two events fit in perfectly and won’t hamper other folks that can’t play in the event.

With this being the first week of the European Tour playoffs, the CIMB did get a great field, including Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els.  Still it could be a challenge for this event to be recognized by people in the states watching it in the middle of the morning. In the fall it’s hard to get the interest of fans to events like the Fry’s and Shriners, now with a 12 hour time change and lack of media reporting, a lot of people may not care about this week and next.  Guess time will show, but for now they have good sponsors and for this week’s event in Malaysia it will showcase that country and help expand golf in Asia.

Course information: 

This will be the first year that this event is being played at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.  The first three years of this event was played at The Mines Resort.  So for many in the field they won’t have much of an advantage or even seen the course before this week, but for those that played on the European Tour Kuala Lumpur Golf & C.C. has been used the last four years in the Maybank Malaysian Open which ended it’s 15 year run last year with Kiradech Aphibarnrat winning.  Kuala Lumpur is very popular, a work horse on professional tours, just two weeks ago it held the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia.  So the course has the background for holding professional events.

The course lies just five miles from downtown Kuala Lumpur and is part of a 36 hole complex that was opened in 1991.  Both the West and East course opened in 1991 and after the 2006 Malaysian was played on the west course, it underwent a total redesign.  Ted and Geoff Parslow of design firm E&G Parslow and Associates extensively reconstructed the layout over a period of eighteen months. The revamped West course reopened in October 2008 and a couple of months later held the Malaysian Open.

Because of the hot and humid weather, a special type of grass that many pros haven’t seen is used on the course, Seashore Paspalum.   The grass gives the course the reputation as the best groomed course in Asia.  The course is very fair, what you see is what you get.  Built on the site of a former rubber estate the course has greens that  don’t have much undulation and average 6,500 square feet.  It’s got over 90 bunkers and seven lakes come into play on 10 holes but from past events held on it scores will be low, probably in the 15 to 18 under range for this week.  So look for a lot of birdies to be made and lot’s of good putting.

Here are some of the secrets of what it will take to play well at the CIMB Classic:

Key stat for the winner:

The biggest key is being able to survive what will be tough conditions weather wise.  Each day it’s going to be 90 degrees with over 95% humidity.  In looking at a weather report for the next week each day has 100% chance of thunderstorms, mostly in the afternoon so it will take a special breed of player to win.  So look for a player that has lot’s of experience in playing in what could be considered Florida weather in July.  Patience will be important, last year’s Maybank Malaysian Open was reduced to 54 holes, because of bad weather.

Here are some more key stats to look to for this week:

  • Past winners on this course seem to putt very well.  In looking at the last five winners at Kuala Lumpur, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Louis Oosthuizen, Matteo Manassero, Seung-Yul Noh and Charlie Wi do have one thing in commend, they don’t overpower the ball and rely on good putting.
  • This is probably the longest haul from one PGA Tour to another, over 9,000 miles.  So with the time change I can’t see the winner being a player that competed in Las Vegas.  The field has been expanded from 48 players to 78 with the top-60 available players from the 2013 FedEx Cup point list.  There are also the top-10 players off the Asian Tour (who co-sponsors the event) so don’t be surprised to see an Asian winner this week.  In the previous three CIMB Classic’s the highest finish by an Asian Tour member was Mardan Mamat who finished T5th in 2010.
  • One thing to look for, we could have the ultimate brother-sister double as Nicholas Thompson, who was 77th in last year’s FedEx Cup is playing on the same course that his 18-year-old sister Lexi won on just two weeks ago.
  • Since the event is wide open with not many folks playing on this course, look at our who’s hot chart to see which player in the field has been playing the best of late.  Also be sure to forget any folks that played in Vegas.

This event has a history of three events, but since it wasn’t official it’s not in the Golfstats database.  So below is a little different format on our picks.

For those wanting to see who has played in this event before, look at the 8 year glance from the Maybank Malaysia Open and remember Kuala Lumpur was used in 2006, 2010, ’11, ’12 and ’13.

Who to watch for at the CIMB Classic

Best Bets:
Sergio Garcia – Playing in this event for the first time.
Thoughts: Has not played since the Tour Championship, he always does well this time of year, look for him to be in contention.

Keegan Bradley – Playing in this event for the first time.
Thoughts: Did win the PGA Championship in Atlanta in hot sticky weather, that really comes out as a big advantage in my book.

Bo Van Pelt – Won the event in 2011, finished T2nd last year.
Thoughts: Seems to know what it takes to play well in Malaysia, also played good in Australia last week.

Best of the rest:
Ernie Els – Finished T5th in 2010.
Thoughts: Has played all over the world and won in hot, sticky conditions. Watch him play well this week.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat – Finished T21st in 2010, finished T20th in 2011.
Thoughts: Could pull off a rare double, won the Maybank Malaysian Open here last March, also finished T3rd at Kuala Lumpur in 2010.

Phil Mickelson – Playing in this event for the first time.
Thoughts: His type of course, I just wonder if he could put up with the weather, a boy from San Diego could wilt away in Malaysia.

Hideki Matsuyama – Playing in this event for the first time.
Thoughts: Got sick and didn’t play in Las Vegas, had some time off to get back together, I can see him playing well this week.

Solid Contenders:
Bill Haas – Finished T26th in 2010, finished T16th last year.
Thoughts: Course should suit him, should watch him this week.

Rickie Fowler – Finished T5th in 2010.
Thoughts: Has had a good rest and ready to go.

Bubba Watson – Playing in this event for the first time.
Thoughts: Good course for him, he can handle the weather, think he is ready to get back into the winners circle.

K.J. Choi – Finished T18th in 2010.
Thoughts: Looking to get back on track, did finish 2nd back in 2010 at Kuala Lumpur.

Long shots that could come through:
David Lynn – Playing in this event for the first time.
Thoughts: Won two weeks ago in Portugal, look for another good week out of him.

Jeev Milkha Singh – Finished T10th in 2011.
Thoughts: Has played Kuala Lumpur a lot, he could be a big surprise.

Thaworn Wiratchant – Finished T33rd in 2010, finished T16th last year.
Thoughts: Won three weeks ago on the Asian Tour, has played a lot at Kuala Lumpur and knows the course real well.

Again anyone that played in Las Vegas over the weekend I wouldn’t touch at all.