Lump-ur On Na In Malaysia
The CIMB Classic was first played in 2010 as a small-field tournament featuring the top 25 in the Fed Ex Cup standings, the top ten Asian players and a handful of sponsors’ exemptions, but has expanded significantly since then.
It was the first ever Asian event sanctioned by the PGA Tour, and in 2013 it was given official Tour status as part of the re-designed PGA Tour schedule.
The tournament was originally played at the Mines Resort and Golf Club, Kuala Lumpur, but moved to the West Course at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club in 2013, a venue that has also hosted the Malaysian Open. At a touch under 7000 yards, it is short by PGA Tour standards, and is an undulating, parkland course that doesn’t offer too many challenges, apart from the humidity and risk of storms.
In The Bunker
No player from outside the United States has won this event in five editions, but Henrik Stenson is a strong favourite to do so.
He’s the highest ranked player in the field, and ended last season in tremendous form, finishing second at the Barclays, the Deutsche Bank Championship and the Tour Championship, but after a month off, he can’t be banked on to continue in the same vein, and I won’t be backing him at 7/1.
Few PGA players are in better form at the moment than Kevin Na and he looks a solid bet this week.
He finished last season with consecutive top-twenty finishes at the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship and has picked up where he left off, just missing out via a play-off in the Frys.Com Open and finishing second at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open last week.
He was runner-up in Kuala Lumpur last year and at 14/1 is a good bet to go one better this time.
Patrick Reed didn’t finish last season particularly strongly, a top four at the Deutsche Bank Championship being his only notable result, but he could have an edge on some of his competitors this week, having taken part in the Hong Kong Open last week. He finished third after four solid rounds and that outing will have helped him to acclimatise to Far Eastern conditions. Back him at 20/1 to pick up his fifth PGA title.
Justin Thomas had a solid if not spectacular first full season on the PGA Tour, but he’s kicked off the new term in excellent touch, opening with a 66 at the Frys.Com Open and finishing third, his best result to date in a PGA event. This is his first visit to the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club, but he has bags of potential and goes there in better form than many of his rivals. Back him to bag his first Tour win at 22/1.
*Prices correct at time of publication