The Confidence Factor: CIMB Classic

Now updated with my preview/picks!

 

Picks PLUS other goodies tomorrow afternoon! ARROW DOWN

CIMB Classic

TPC Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia

 

TPC Kuala Lumpur Cheat Sheet

Yards (per official scorecard): 7,005
Par: 72 (36-36)
Greens: TifEagle Bermuda
Stimpmeter: 12
Rough: Celebration Bermuda up to two-and-a-half inches.
Bunkers/Water Hazards Eight ponds
Architects: Nelson & Haworth (1991); E&G Parslow (2008); Parslow/Winter & PGA TOUR (2017).
Purse: $7 million; $1.26 winner plus 500 FedExCup points.
Defending Champion (event): Pat Perez
Fact of the Week: There have been only three winners in five events at TPC Kuala Lumpur.
Fact of the Week II: The course was all paspalum until last November when it was redesigned/regrassed.

 

Notes:

  • 78 players, 72 holes, NO CUT.
  • Second event of the 2018-19 season.
  • This event moved to TPC Kuala Lumpur in 2014 so any previous history at The Mines is irrelevant.

 

 

2017-18 Winners

Looking back to look forward as you’ll notice no Spieth, Fowler, Scott, McIlroy, Matsuyama, Fleetwood, Finau, Stenson or Garcia.

*First-time winner

**First-time winner AND rookie winner

Event Winner
   
Safeway Open Brendan Steele
CIMB Classic Pat Perez
WGC-HSBC Champions Justin Rose
Sanderson Farms Ryan Armour*
Shriners Hospitals for Children Patrick Cantlay*
OHL Mayakoba Patton Kizzire*
The RSM Classic Austin Cook**
Sentry TOC Dustin Johnson
Sony Open Patton Kizzire (2)
CB Challenge Jon Rahm
Farmers Insurance Open Jason Day
WMPO Gary Woodland
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Ted Potter, Jr.
Genesis Open Bubba Watson
Honda Classic Justin Thomas
WGC-Mexico Championship Phil Mickelson
Valspar Championship Paul Casey
Arnold Palmer Invitational Rory McIlroy
WGC-Match Play Bubba Watson (2)
Corales Puntacana Resorts Brice Garnett*
Houston Open Ian Poulter
Masters Patrick Reed
RBC Heritage Satoshi Kodaira*
Valero Texas Open Andrew Landry*
Zurich Classic of New Orleans Billy Horschel & Scott Piercy
Wells Fargo Championship Jason Day (2)
THE PLAYERS Championship Webb Simpson
AT&T Byron Nelson Aaron Wise**
Fort Worth Invitational Justin Rose (2)
Memorial Bryson DeChambeau
FESJC Dustin Johnson (2)
U.S. Open Brooks Koepka
Travelers Championship Bubba Watson (3)
Quicken Loans National Francesco Molinari
A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier Kevin Na
John Deere Classic Michael Kim*
The Open Championship Francesco Molinari (2)
RBC Canadian Open Dustin Johnson (3)
Barracuda Championship Andrew Putnam*
WGC-Bridgestone Invitational Justin Thomas (3)
PGA Championship Brooks Koepka (2)
Wyndham Championship Brandt Snedeker
THE NORTHERN TRUST FEC I Bryson DeChambeau (2)
Dell Technologies FEC II Bryson DeChambeau (3)
BMW Championship FEC III Keegan Bradley
TOUR Championship Tiger Woods

 

The Confidence Factor is the weekly column I write for PGATOUR.COM. I’ve included the link here for you. Please read as I’m not going to write it all out here.

 

Facts and Figures:

Tournament Record: 262 (-26); Thomas, 2015 (2016 season).
Course Record: 61; Thomas (Rd. 2), 2015.
Recent Defending Champion(s): Moore (2014, 2015), Thomas (2016, 2017)
Multiple Winners (event or course): See above.
First TOUR Win (last): Thomas, 2015.
First-time Event: Moore 2014, Thomas 2015.
Low Round 2017: 63; Paul Casey.
Odd Fact: The worst winning score in the last three events is 23-under-par.

 

Quick Thoughts

TPC Kuala Lumpur has ditched paspalum for Bermuda so that should help those familiar on the surface. The course changes will include closely-mown areas around the greens, narrower/faster fairways and mellowed and expanded greens that will add potential new pin placements.

These changes to make the course more difficult will make gamers lives easier as the premium players will have the advantage. Scores will still be low for my money just not 25-under low so guys will still have to get after it. Remember, Paul Casey opened with 77 here last year and still finished T7.

New grass on the greens should reduce the amount of birdies. New grass in the rough and shrunken fairways should also contribute to more pars as well. New grass in general suggests firmer conditions, which will reward the more accurate players and eliminate the marginal ones.

Event Winners:

Year Player Notes
2017 Pat Perez 264 (-24) Led on 21-under after 54 holes. Route.
2016 Justin Thomas, 265 (-23) Opened with 64 and closed with 64 to come from four back on Sunday.
2015 Justin Thomas 262 (-26) Set the tournament scoring record yet only won by a shot.
2014 Ryan Moore 271 (-17) Won by three to repeat.
2013 Ryan Moore 274 (-14) Defeated Gary Woodland in a playoff.

 

Must-Haves

Justin Thomas: I don’t think I’m breaking any new ground here. No news is good news on his wrist and he’ll be excited to get his season started on a course where he’s won twice and is 60-under in three tries the last three years.

Ryan Moore: The other two-time champ loves the fall portion of the schedule and TPC Kuala Lumpur. He’s also 60-under but has played one more event. His worst finish is T17 (last year) but as well as he played last week, this is a no-brainer.

Billy Horschel: Don’t sleep on the fact that his worst finish in three FedExCup Playoff events where he made the cut was T3. He was 41-under (WD Dell Technologies) from those three events. He’s 16th in fairways, third in GIR and 23rd in Strokes-Gained: putting. Must-play in every format.

Xander Schauffele: Like Horschel, he finished the FedExCup Playoffs with a bang as he cashed T3 at BMW and T7 in his defense at the TOUR Championship. It’s obvious he likes the routing here as he was 17-under thru 54 holes last year and played in the final group with Perez before fading with 72. He only squared two bogeys in those first 54 holes.

Brandt Snedeker: After he couldn’t close the deal at Silverado I thought his take afterward was telling. He said he wasn’t going to let nine poor holes wipe out the fantastic first 63 that he played to grab that five-shot lead. Let’s be fair: his swing wasn’t on point coming down the stretch at Wyndham either but he’s WIN-P2 in his last two starts. Imagine if he figures it out!

Paul Casey: I’m not sure which was more impressive here last year: Shooting 77 in the first round or playing the final three rounds in 19-under to cash T7. Teeing it up for the fifth consecutive year at TPC Kuala Lumpur, he’s improved on his finish each season. He’s always a factor when hitting plenty of GIR is a necessity. He won’t mind the greens not allowing putts to go in from everywhere either!

Gary Woodland: The two-time runner-up in his first two appearances is looking to get back into the top 10 this week after three quiet years. Since a very quiet spring, Woodland has racked up 11 weekends running and six of the last seven have cashed T24 or better. He improved in every FedExCup Playoff event and his ball-striking should force him into contention again this week.

Keegan Bradley: Along with Moore, he’s the only other player in the field with three top-10 paydays at TPC Kuala Lumpur. Nobody will be happier to hear that the fairways and greens are running firm and faster than usual. It’s no secret that Bradley makes his money tee-to-green and especially with his iron play. He’s 36-under in his last two trips the last two years.

Cameron Smith: After a blazing T3-third to begin the FedExCup Playoffs, the Aussie cooled in the final two events. The endless summer for the down-under contingent continues and this track should be a soft-landing area for Smith to get started. He’s 37-under in three tries with a pair of top-five finishes to show for his efforts yet has three rounds at par-or-worse.

Rafa Cabrera-Bello: His matching T10 finishes in two tries emphasizes that his ball-striking prowess works here. He finished last season in the top 17 in fairways, greens, scoring average and strokes-gained: total. Like many on this list above, he should be rested and ready to go this week.

Next Tier

Anirban Lahiri: The 2015 Maybank Malaysian Open winner from the European Tour on this track has unfinished business here on the PGA TOUR. He led by four after 54 holes in 2017 but shot 72 and cashed T3. Last year he fired 64 in Round 3 but sputtered with 71 in the final round and ended T10. Nobody has played this event more as he’ll tee it up for the sixth time in six years.

Kevin Na: This will be his first “off” week since winning at The Old White TPC in July. Every event he played after winning was a major, WGC or FedExCup Playoff event so he’ll be excited to hit and giggle. He was T2 in 2015 and T3 in 2016 before T29 and T44 the last two years.

Kevin Tway: I love that he made five birdies in a row to win last week so I’m not worried about his confidence. He’s already ahead of the curve in year two and that should help him settle in quicker than his 74 to open last year. He was T3 in Par-5 scoring here last year (T32) and 17th on TOUR last year.

Stewart Cink: Course historians remind me that he’s cashed T11, T13 and T17 in three of four starts. He’s 27-under in his last two (2018, 2016). He hasn’t played since Labor Day weekend so he should be fresh and ready to roll.

Marc Leishman: If I leave him out he plays well. If I include him, he plays highly average. He was solo fifth in his last visit in 2016 and is 28-under in his last two trips combined. The field isn’t deep enough to ignore him.

Kyle Stanley: He was sixth in fairways and fourth in GIR last season. This is a recording. He began his season here last year with T21 followed by T19 at CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES and T5 WGC-HSBC so he must have thought that was a good idea again this year.

C.T. Pan: He’s stuck his brother on the bag so that means his wife gets the fall off! Pan has been back in the Far East since the end of the FedExCup Playoffs (according to social media) so he won’t have any jet lag to worry about.

Danny Lee: Quietly going about his business with a pair of top-10 paydays in his last five TOUR starts including T10 last week. Last year at TPC Kuala Lumpur he cashed T7, his best paycheck in four tries, as he played the final 54 holes in 15-under.

Jason Kokrak: After MC at Carnoustie he peeled off six paydays in a row including T40, T24 and T19 to wrap up the FedExCup Playoffs. He’s picked a good time for his first start here as the new grass should help level the playing field this time around.

Louis Oosthuizen: He’s a notorious jet-setter so I’m not worried one bit that he played the Dunhill last week. None. Nada. Zilch. He broke in his new Ping irons last week (T32) so I’d expect better this week. He’s also a first-timer.

Emiliano Grillo: Three of his eight rounds are 67 or lower here. Three of his eight rounds are above par here. He’ll finish T7 or T57. He’s knocked the rust off last week so I’m pushing him in here.

Peter Uihlein: His T10 last year included 14-under on his final 54 holes. He’s wonderfully mercurial but if Par-5 scoring matters this week, he’ll need to be considered. Risk diminishes and reward increases without a cut this week.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat: Look, I ABSOLUTELY HATE breaking guys out but this makes too much sense and there’s no cut. It’s his part of the world and his only start here was T3 in 2014. DO NOT LOOK UP HIS CURRENT FORM.

Ben An: He’s making cuts for fun because he’s in the top 25 off-the-tee, approach-the-green and tee-to-green. His streak is nine and that’s a steady option in my opinion.

Austin Cook: He makes too many cuts to ignore even though there isn’t a cut this week. He’ll play from the sprinkler line and that should give him plenty of chances to attack. His short game will help if his irons are quiet. Plus we get Kip Henley tweets from Malaysia!

 

Head’s Up!

Top 10 last week:

Kevin Tway (WIN)

Ryan Moore (P2)

Brandt Snedeker (P2)

Troy Merritt (T4):  T21 and 14-under last time he was here (2016).

Sam Ryder (T4): 21st in fairways and 2nd in GIR last season.

J.B. Holmes (9th): Broke a nasty streak of nothing with big finish last week.

Players without a top 25 recently:

Branden Grace: Best is T27 in six tries since T25 at Shinnecock.

Satoshi Kodaira: T17 last week on the Japan Tour broke a streak of 10 events worldwide outside the top 25.

Pat Perez: The defending champ was T20 at WGC-Mexico Championship. He had one top 25 in his next 14 starts to close the season. I guess he finds Carnoustie easy (T17)!

Si Woo Kim: After gifting Kodaira a chance at a playoff at Harbour Town, Kim has one top 25, T10 at Firestone in the last five months. In classic Kim fashion, he was T10 on his maiden here in 2017 and put four rounds OVER par here last year. Let me know when you get it figured out.

Kevin Chappell: Was playing great last winter before a back injury knocked him out of Match Play. His T6 at Carnoustie (seeing a pattern here?) was his only top 25 in his last 14 events of last season.

Jason Dufner: Remember when he was leading THE PLAYERS in putting for three rounds? He’s MC in six of nine since and has one top 25 (T25) in that stretch.

Jimmy Walker: After a fantastic May Walker ran out of gas in the summer as his best finish in his final eight starts of the season was T28. Super contrarian play this week if you look at his solo sixth in his only appearance here in 2014.

Chesson Hadley: T8 at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm has been followed with nothing better than T45 in his last eight including four MC.

Brendan Steele: If he didn’t pull the rabbit out of the hat last week, he’s surely not doing it this week, right? His best result in his last 13 events is T30.

Shubhankar Sharma: Yep, he won the Maybank Championship earlier this year. Nope, it wasn’t on this track. His last top 25 worldwide was at Colonial in May (T20).

 

Shots in the Dark

Andrew Putnam: I’m going to lean GIR guys this week over the putters. He was 18th GIR last year and had a solid finish to his season.

Scott Piercy: Lift, clean and replace in 2015 saw him open with 62 and finish T7. He added T10 the following season before not putting a round in the 60’s last year. His last top 25 was on Hilton Head in April.

Thomas Pieters: He should eat up this track with his length if he can keep it on the planet. Blows wonderfully hot and cold and means a flier in DFS.

James Hahn: A pair of top 10’s here might interest you but you should know his last top 25 was at Riviera. Yes, THAT Riviera.

Charles Howell III: It’s his time of year! Too bad there’s not a cut this week as he makes just about all of them! Except when I had him as my OAD last year at RSM. Bitter? Who me??

Brian Gay: When it’s not a long track, and this one isn’t, I’m taking a look as he’ll play out of the fairway all day.

Justin Harding: He’s cashed second, T4 and 10th in his last three on the Asian Tour and adds two wins in the last 12 weeks. #Fuego.

Sang Hyun Park: Win, T4, T9 and T30 in the last four weeks on the Asian Tour. IF you are a believer of form, and the Asian Tour, there you go.

John Catlin: Two wins in the last 13 weeks on the Asian Tour. He played college golf at New Mexico so he’ll have had some experience on Bermuda.

Keith Mitchell: If he keeps it on the planet, he will destroy the Par-5 holes this week.

 

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out through Twitter or email me mikeglasscott@gmail.com.

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s