The PGA Tour leaves America for its Asian swing this week. That begins with the CIMB Classic which takes place in Malaysia. The field for each of these Asian events is capped at 78 so the quality is guaranteed to be high especially with everyone assured of earning some money given that there is no cut.
Justin Thomas bids to complete a hat trick of wins here having taken the title in each of the last two editions but he faces some stiff competition in what should be a good watch for the early riders in the UK.
2016 – Justin Thomas
2015 – Justin Thomas
2014 – Ryan Moore
2013 – Ryan Moore
2012 – Nick Watney
2011 – Bo Van Pelt
2010 – Ben Crane
Once again the tournament will take place at TPC Kuala Lumpur. This course is well known by now. This will be the fifth time it has staged this particular event and it has also held a European Tour event in the past too.
The track is a par 72 which measures just 7,005 yards so it goes without saying that it is there to be attacked especially with the modern technology. There are no secrets to the course either. Hit greens in regulation, hole putts and make a stack of birdies. The winning score is likely to be well into the -20s this week.
Thomas adds a major champion feel to the event this week but there are a number of stars from America and international golf who are teeing it up, not least the Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama who will be popular here.
Paul Casey, Charl Schwartzel, Ian Poulter, Rafael Cabrera Bello and Thomas Pieters head the overseas charge at this title while FedEx Cup leader and last week’s winner Brendan Steele also tees it up. Jason Dufner, Lucas Glover and Keegan Bradley bring more major flavour to the field.
Unsurprisingly Justin Thomas is the favourite to win the tournament this week. He is just 9/2 to land the hat trick but he does represent the leading chance of winning. That said it would need him to win to gain any significant sort of pay out.
Hideki Matsuyama is the second favourite this week. He is 9/1 to win a tournament he chased Thomas home in last season but he doesn’t look to be in anything close to resembling the form he was in then. Paul Casey is 12/1 to land the title. He keeps knocking on the door but it seems to be bolted shut so he looks a little on the short side.
Last week’s winner Brendan Steele and rookie of the year for last season Xander Schauffele are next in the market at 28/1. Both men should enjoy this course. Steele has good previous form but I never like backing the previous week’s winner which counts him out from my shortlist. It is 30/1 bar those named.
I’m going with two main bets this week. Both are international players with experience of playing around here which I think is key because the tropical climate can catch out those who are not prepared for it.
If this tournament had been the week after the previous renewal there is no way I would have gone for Anirban Lahiri after he gave me the biggest bad beat I’ve ever experienced in golf betting but I’m nothing if not persistent so I’m going with him again. He won a European Tour event around here and he should have won this last year. That experience should have steeled him though and given how well he played at the Presidents Cup I’m prepared to chance him again. You have to be able to putt here and he’s very good at it so he’s my first main pick.
Another excellent putter is Ian Poulter. Poulter tends to play his best golf in the Asian conditions and as someone who has been hitting a number of greens in recent times his putting ability should have him right in the mix this week. Poulter was in the top 20 last year but his game is a million times better now. He should be right there this week.
There are a couple of outsiders I like this week. Both of them can putt well and they have both had a line of form around this track. The first of those is Cameron Smith who is now a PGA Tour winner having won alongside Jonas Blixt in New Orleans. When he finds the greens he is one of the better putters going around, as we saw that week, and at 55/1 he looks a fair price to get stuck into this week.
I always like to chase the bigger prices and I’m prepared to do that again here. Chris Stroud was third here back in 2013 and that doesn’t surprise me because he is generally a decent putter. His long game let him down last week but the course might have been too long for him. This is a positional course off the tee which should be better for him and if he can find the greens his putter should have him going strongly at a massive price.
Back A.Lahiri to win CIMB Classic (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 31.00 with Betfred (1/4 1-5)
Back him here:
Back I.Poulter to win CIMB Classic (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 36.00 with Boylesports (1/4 1-5)
Back him here:
PLACED – Back C.Smith to win CIMB Classic (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 56.00 with Unibet (1/4 1-5)
Back him here:
Back C.Stroud to win CIMB Classic (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 201.00 with 888sport (1/4 1-5)