Justin Thomas is looking to join a select few in winning an event three times in a row on Tour. There’s hardly a doubt whether or not he has the chops to do it.
TPC Kuala Lumpur will give up some birdies, no doubt, but is a proper looker.
TPC Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Yards: 7,005 per the official scorecard;
Par: 72 (36-36);
Course Architect(s): Nelson Howarth (1991); E&G Parslow (2008).
Greens: Sea Isle Supreme Paspalum at 11; 6,500 square feet on average.
Rough: Seashore Paspalum at two and a half inches.
Water Hazards: in play on 13 holes.
Purse: $7 million; $1.26 million (winner); 500 FEC points.
Defending Champion: Justin Thomas defended his championship as he defeated Hideki Matsuyama by three shots.
Notes: 78 players; 72 holes (no cut).
2017-18 PGA Tour Winners
Frys.com: Brendan Steele
2016: Justin Thomas, -23
2015: Justin Thomas, -26
2014: Ryan Moore, -17
2013: *-Ryan Moore, -14
* – playoff
italics – not playing this week
Weather: Hot and humid.
Bubba Watson’s caddy weighs in on the weather in Malaysia:
This will win you a bar bet I:
This became an official event in 2013, the same year it moved to the West Course at TPC- KL.
This will win you a bar bet, II:
TPC-KL is the first TPC course in SE Asia.
This will win you a bar bet, III:
Anirban Lahiri won the Maybank Malaysian Open here in 2015, the last time the course hosted the event. He fired 62 in round three and went on to win by one shot.
Fact and figures
- Course record: 61, Justin Thomas, round two in 2015-16 season.
- Most Birdies: 30, Justin Thomas, 2015-16. He made 29 last year.
- There were four total rounds over par in the top 25 last year.
- The top 28 players were double-digits-under-par.
- Russell Knox and Tyrone Van Aswegen shared the low round last year (63).
- There were six rounds of 64 last year and Thomas had 1/3 of them.
In the heat and humidity of Malaysia, there’s no secret as what is needed to succeed: birdies.
Lots of them.
Anirban Lahiri led after 54-holes last year on 19-under-par and finished third so there’s no point in taking a hole or two off. The inaugural winning score (-14) would have claimed solo ninth last year so the more times the pros see this track, the more they will take advantage. There’s always rain and humidity so the trees, bunkers and water hazards only penalize truly poor shots as the golf ball doesn’t get much roll here.
With target golf and perfect putting greens it’s hardly a surprise why there are a boatload of birdies annually. Toss in four par fives, two short par fours and a track that plays barely to 7,000 yards, expect a shootout and low scores.
Players who handle the jet lag and humidity (read: experience) won’t suffer this week. Neither will those who feast tee-to-green and make birdies for fun.
No need to make bogeys or worse this week as the field won’t wait for guys to catch up.
I’m leaning on class plus guys who have been recently racking up low numbers.
You’ll see some names in the field this week that you might not recognize and there’s a reason for that.
You won’t see them in this column either!
Justin Thomas: This is pretty self-explanatory. He’s won the lot on Tour. He didn’t fade at the Presidents Cup. He has 59 birdies in his last 144 holes on this track. The only surprise this week will be if he doesn’t win or finish second.
Brendan Steele: All of you Matsuyama lovers can throw all the stones you want. The repeat champ at Safeway is 38-under in three events at TPC KL with two round OVER par. He has unfinished business on this track as well. He and Thomas played the final round together in 2016 and his 68 fell two shots short of Thomas’ 66 and he finished T-3. Shooting 68 in the final group and finishing third? #GoLowYo.
Paul Casey: This will be his fourth consecutive year at this event and he’s improved his finish each year. I would still rate him in the top five if he was playing this track for the first time with rental clubs. He has five top fives in his last eight worldwide.
Hideki Matsuyama: He ran out of gas in the Playoffs (nothing better than T-23) and didn’t have time to fill up before the Presidents Cup. He said he hasn’t touched a club in two weeks so remember that if he gets off to a slow start. His solo fifth and solo second in the last two years checked in at 42-under-par so it’s obvious that putting doesn’t matter on this track. He has rounds of 64 and 65 in those two events and rakes in this part of the world.
Kevin Na: He knocked off the rust last week at Safeway with T-37 so I’d expect more of what we saw at Wyndham (T-4), Dell Technologies (T-6) and a closing 63 at Conway Farms. In four events here he’s never posted anything worse than 70 (twice) as all 16 rounds are equal or lower. Going low and making birdies has never bothered him and neither has this track.
Scott Piercy: I hate being a day late and a dollar short so I’m bumping him up. Gamers like me were worried when he disappeared after the Travelers. He showed up at Shriners Hospitals media day (Las Vegas resident) and popped back into view last week with T-17 at Safeway. He rolled in 19 birdies (T-5) in his first event back. I’d mention that he’s 47-under here in three events with a 62 to his credit but that’s just overkill.
Bud Cauley: Loyal readers will point out that this shouldn’t be a surprise as I’m all in on the former ‘Bama star. He rattled off 47 holes in a row last week without a bogey (-14) and that will work again this week. He only made one birdie on Sunday sadly yet still finished T-7 in spite of his 74. Southern dudes don’t mind hot and humid conditions either.
Thomas Pieters: Based on talent alone he could slot in anywhere in the top five so move him up if you think his power will just devour this joint. He played here in 2015 on the Euro Tour and it took him a couple of rounds to get acclimated. He closed 70-66 so he’s a quick learner.
Jason Dufner: There will be a few putters this week who make everything on these perfect greens. I’m leaning on a guy who is going to hit all of them and makes his share. He posted 64 and 65 on this track previously on this track.
Keegan Bradley: His streak of cuts made ended at Safeway at 10 so that should keep the marks off his trail. Pros will remember he’s posted four rounds of 66 or lower in three events here with two top 10’s. This will be his fourth event in five years so flying halfway around the world doesn’t bother him.
Graham DeLaet: No podiums in three years and missed another last week by a shot. Since he’s not in my top 10 he’s guaranteed a top 10, you watch.
Ian Poulter: World traveler is healthy and his game is following suit. T-11 last week at Close House continued that fine form. T-17 last year in his first try and he’s back for more.
Xander Schauffele: The newly announced ROY gets a break from me this week as NOBODY expects him to follow up the Tour Championship with back-to-back wins, right? He didn’t exactly flake out after winning The Greenbrier so it will interesting to see if he keeps it going. Top 40 in fairways, greens, birdies, putting and scoring suggests he will.
Rafael Cabrera-Bello: Racked up a T-10 on his first visit last year so it’s hardly a wonder why he’s back.
Emiliano Grillo: His closing round of 77 on a course where he’s won probably pissed a few folks off. I’ll choose to remember he was 11-under after 54-holes and in the hunt.
Scott Hend: He hit the top 10 (T-7) with an opening round 74 last year. His 69-63-67 finish is his best three round stretch here. Also posted T-14 in 2015 at the Malaysian Maybank with a 66 included.
Chez Reavie: He doesn’t hit it very far but he won’t need to this week. Too many top 25’s over the last few months to ignore in a this thin.
Sung Kang: Has NO PROBLEM throwing up a low number or two completely out of right field. Could be 63. Could be 83. You’ll have action one way or the other.
Jamie Lovemark: He sat 10-under after three rounds last year before a final round 75 knocked him way back. Opened with 67 last week before stalling out T-43. I like guys who are sniffing around.
Ollie Schniederjans: Top 50 in birdies and par five scoring, there’s more reward than risk with no cut.
James Hahn: If he had ANY form anywhere in the last month he’d be in the top 10. With 64-64-65 in three of his last eight rounds, he’ll be in all the lineups of the historians and rightfully so.
Hudson Swafford: He obviously doesn’t mind the humidity with T-24 and T-29 last year in his last two. All eight rounds are in the red but nothing lower than 67.
Stewart Cink: T-11 in 2014 and T-17 two years ago with a 64 suggests this Georgia resident also isn’t bothered by the heat or humidity. Savvy veterans know how to keep the ball out of trouble.
Russell Knox: Shot 63 here last year and is 27-under total in his only two trips.
Gary Woodland: Two seconds to Ryan Moore. Two T-56 when Justin Thomas wins. I bet he wishes Moore was playing this week…
Long Shots and General MishMash
Jonas Blixt has two top 25’s here in the last two years and I’m not sure if he has two anywhere else total…Lucas Glover only has one round from eight in red figures here but has been consistently humming along…Jim Herman can control his golf ball tee-to-green but he’ll need to hole a few putts to get back into the top 10 again…Luke List is my dark horse for the week #OnTheRecord…Patrick Rodgers will be in this column every event until he wins. Somebody whisper in his ear that this is the JDC of Asia and he’ll win…Cameron Smith has gone T-7, MC, MC and T-12 in his last four on Tour so hope it’s his week!
If they’re not listed above, I’m not looking in their direction this week. If you have specific questions email me: firstname.lastname@example.org or @MikeGlasscott on the Tweeter.
2016-17 PGA Tour Winners
CIMB: Justin Thomas
WGC-HSBC: Hideki Matsuyama
Sanderson Farms: Cody Gribble**
Shriners: Rod Pampling
OHL Mayakoba: Pat Perez
RSM Classic: Mackenzie Hughes**
SBS TOC: Justin Thomas
Sony Open: Justin Thomas
CB Challenge: Hudson Swafford*
Farmers: Jon Rahm*
WMPO: Hideki Matsuyama
AT&T Pebble Beach: Jordan Spieth
Genesis Open: Dustin Johnson
Honda: Rickie Fowler
WGC-MC: Dustin Johnson
Valspar: Adam Hadwin*
Arnold Palmer: Marc Leishman
WGC-Match Play: Dustin Johnson
Shell Houston Open: Russell Henley
Masters: Sergio Garcia
RBC Heritage: Wesley Bryan**
Valero Texas Open: Kevin Chappell*
Zurich Classic: Cameron Smith* & Jonas Blixt
Wells Fargo Championship: Brian Harman
THE PLAYERS: Si Woo Kim
AT&T Byron Nelson: Billy Horschel
Colonial: Kevin Kisner
Memorial: Jason Dufner
FESJC: Daniel Berger
U.S. Open: Brooks Koepka
Travelers: Jordan Spieth
QLN: Kyle Stanley
Greenbrier: Xander Schauffele**
John Deere Classic: Bryson DeChambeau**
The Open Championship: Jordan Spieth
Barbasol: Grayson Murray
RBC Canadian: Jhonattan Vegas
WGC-BI: Hideki Matsuyama
Barracuda: Chris Stroud*
PGA Championship: Justin Thomas
Wyndham Championship: Henrik Stenson
FEC Playoff I: Dustin Johnson
FEC Playoff II: Justin Thomas
FEC Playoff III: Marc Leishman
FEC Playoff IV: Xander Schuaffele
**-First-time winner AND rookie winner
Wednesday I’ll present my gaming angles for the week so keep your eyes peeled at @MikeGlasscott and mikeglasscott.com for more information.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out through Twitter or email me email@example.com.