CIMB Classic Betting Preview

Sergio Garcia and Phil Mickelson (Courtesy: Zimbio.com)

Sergio Garcia and Phil Mickelson (Courtesy: Zimbio.com)

The third event of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season sees a strong field, including Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia, head to Malaysia for the 2013 CIMB Classic.

2013 CIMB Classic Fact Sheet

  • Course: Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club
  • Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Yardage: 6,967 yards, par 72
  • Defending Champion: Bo Van Pelt
  • Five Consensus Favourites: Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Keegan Bradley, Hideki Matsuyama and Nick Watney

TV Schedule

  • Wednesday – 11:00 PM to 3:00 AM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Thursday – 11:00 PM to 3:00 AM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Friday – 11:00 PM to 3:00 AM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Saturday – 11:00 PM to 3:00 AM ET (Golf Channel)

Key Storyline This Week

There’s a few things to look out for this week, the first being that much like the rest of the former Fall Series events, the CIMB Classic is receiving full FedEx Cup points for the first time. Secondly, we’re looking at a short, no-cut field of 78 players on a course that by my calculations, only fourteen of those who are teeing it up this week have ever played on. Those players, who would have played at Kuala Lumpur G & CC at previous Malaysian Open’s, should have some form of advantage over the rest of the field, even if they are not of the biggest name brand quality.

Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club

The course first opened in 1991, but was redesigned and reopened in 2008, and even though the routing and layout remain the same, every blade of grass was replaced on the course with seashore paspalum. This tends to make it a little easier for the pros due to how high the ball sits on it, even in the fairways, which will likely lead to lower scores throughout the week. There are very few trees that will be in play, but water is present on 13 of the 18 holes, including the toughest stretch on the course from 11-14. Expect the greens to run to around 11 on the stimp, and the course to put a real premium on ball striking.

As you can see based on the yardage, we’re not looking at a long course here, even though the finishing hole is a par-5 that plays to a monstrous 634 yards. Based on the location, it should come as no surprise that the weather will likely play a factor, as it will be very humid throughout the week, with rain and right around a 50% chance of thunderstorms for each day of the event.

Thoughts On The Favourites

  • Phil Mickelson: Lefty is a big addition to the field this year, and he should be well rested after last playing in the Presidents Cup a few weeks ago. He’s always enjoyed his time in Asia too, and usually does well in short fields that are light on talent. It’ll likely be the same story as always with Phil: he’ll either have a chance on Sunday, or he’ll be nowhere near the top.
  • Sergio Garcia: By my calculations, Sergio has played in Malaysia once in his career, winning the 2012 Johor Open. Does that mean he’s going to do anything this week? Of course not, but it’s a good sign. He’ll also be well rested since he’s been off since the Tour Championship a month ago where he finished tied for 9th.
  • Keegan Bradley: Bradley had a quality 2013 season, but he didn’t really do anything memorable outside of a couple of Sunday charges, leading to seven top-10 finishes. Much like Mickelson, he usually plays well in these no cut events, and even with a strong field, his name stands out as one to watch.
  • Hideki Matsuyama: Unlike the first three guys we talked about, Matsuyama has been playing a lot of golf recently as he tries to become a regular on the PGA Tour. He was a star for the Internationals at the Presidents Cup and finished T3 at the Frys, before withdrawing late on Thursday with an illness from the Shriners. People will tell you about the “beware the wounded golfer” theory, but I’ll be taking a pass on Matsuyama this week.
  • Nick Watney: I thought Watney would pull it out last week at the Shriners, but he had a disappointing week, finishing tied for 48th. Now he returns to a tournament that he won on a different course back in 2011, and I don’t know what to make of his game. There might not be a single player on the PGA Tour who has a wider variance of results than Watney, which can make him tough to back on any given week.

Suggested Plays

Sergio Garcia (Best Odds 15-1 at BETDAQ)

Remember what I said earlier about ball striking. Despite the problems that he does have, Garcia is probably the best ball striker in the field, and is still one of the best in the world. Combine that with the fact that Sergio usually does best in events that have smaller fields, and this seems like the place to trust one of the favourites.

Ryan Moore (Best Odds 35-1 at Betfair)

Count me in the group of people who think that Moore should have way more than two wins at this point in his pro career. He does just about everything well, but is also very streaky. At the moment, he’s coming off of back-to-back finishes inside the top-11, so you could be getting him on the upswing here.

Rickie Fowler (Best Odds 40-1 at 888 Sport)

With little to go on for course experience, I’m relying on local form plus overall talent with this selection. Fowler finished tied for 5th in his lone appearance in Malaysia, plus he’s got the talent to be coming in at better than 40-1. It’s been a long time since his last win, and he’s more than overdue.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Best Odds 56-1 at Betfair)

Those of you who watch the European Tour on a regular basis are likely familiar with Kiradech, plus he did come over here for a few WGC events after winning the Malaysian Open at this course earlier in 2013. He also has a tie for third here, so he does seem to like the course. Is it likely that he wins twice in the same year on the same course? Probably not, but he’s worth a shot at this price.

Boo Weekley (Best Odds 125-1 at bet365)

Earlier this year, there was a story about how Weekley is one of those guys that the other pros stop and watch on the range because he’s that good of a ball striker. He finally got back on the board earlier this year in Texas, and that ball striking is what usually prevents him from missing cuts. If the putter is hot, like it was in Louisiana, Texas and Tennessee earlier this year, he’ll be in contention to win.

Stewart Cink (Best Odds 175-1 at Sportingbet)

Much like Weekley, Cink is a great ball striker, and he actually showed signs of getting some form back last season, even though it didn’t result in a win in 2013. His only appearance in the area yielded a T13, and while I don’t think he wins this week, I think it’s possible that he has a good showing and gets into contention.

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