PGA Preview CIMB Classic – Justin Thomas Solid Favorite
by Kent Whitaker Scores & Statson
The PGA Tour Asian Swing kicks off with the CIMB Classic in Malaysia. The Classic is the first of three events held in Asian countries and Justin Thomas is riding the top of the leaderboard prior to round one according to oddsmakers.
Thomas, sporting a +500, won the event in back-to-back years starting in 2015 and defending the Classic trophy in 2016. Those two wins solidified Thomas as a force on the tour as he went on to win five more times in the 2016/2017 season.
Now Thomas enters the tournament this year with a Major – FedEx Cup – on his resume as well as being the fourth-ranked golfer in the Official World Golf Rankings. He’s the only player ranked in the top-ten playing in the event.
The distance between Thomas and the rest of the field, in the eyes of the oddsmakers is a large one. Thomas is at +500 with the closest competitor, Ryan Moore, at +1200. It’s an even further drop to last week’s winner, Kevin Tway, who is tied at +3300 with Emiliano Grillo, Byeong-Hun and Branden Grace. Tway won the Safeway Open last week after surviving a playoff with Brandt Snedeker and Moore.
Here’s a look at the top-Fifteen, plus three additional at +3300, favorited players for the CIMB Classic in Malaysia.
Rafael Cabrera Bello
Other Ranked players in the Classic
Thomas is the highest-ranked player in the field but there are several other OWGR ranked players set to tee up at TPC Kuala Lumpur's West Course. Only two players in the top-twenty are playing in Malaysia. Xander Schauffele is currently ranked 18th and Paul Casey is below him with a ranking of 20th in the world.
A lack of top-twenty players does not equal a week field as compared to the Safeway Open. There are plenty of players with PGA Tour wins making the trip including Ernie Els an Davis Love III who are both winners of Majors. Granted, they are far down the favorites list prior to Thursday play, but there are lots of players to bet on or add to your fantasy lineup.
Here are some of the players ranked in the top-fifty that are playing in the Classic. Keegan Bradley is +2200 and is ranked 31 heading into the Classie where he finished second last year. Marc Leishman is ranked 24th with Billy Horschel currently ranked 35 in the world. Louis Oosthuizen, Jason Dufner, Pat Perez. Kevin NA, Jimmy Walker, and others will also be playing.
The event is a co-sanctioned event by both the PGA Tour and the Asian Tour. It is a limited field with no cuts.
TPC Kuala Lumpur's West Course by the Numbers
TPC Kuala Lumpur's West Course, one of two sets of links located at the venue that used to be known as the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club. It’s located only a few miles from the center of the city. Now, under the TPC banner, the original course is nothing but a memory. The facility underwent a massive redesign that lasted several years ending in 2009.
Since then, there have been several minor tweaks to the links to enhance play and improve player and fan enjoyment. The course is known for being rather short in distance, 7,000 yards, while still being a par-72. Plus, it’s heavy on water hazards. In all, ten of 18 holes are protected with water as well as multiple bunkers.
The terrain is gently rolling in both fairways and rough. The fairways are fairly typical with several narrowed by trees and extensive floral areas. The course is known for its lush green look and blooming plants that are often only a few yards and feet out of bounds.
Location: Mont Kiara - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Designers: Ben Harmon, original 18-hole course Robert Trent Jones, two 18-hole course Johnny Miller, redesign 2011 Established: 1991 Par: West Course, 72 / East Course, 70 Length: West Course, 7,000 yards for PGA Play Course rating: 70.0 Slope rating: 113
CIMB Classic TV Times - all times ET
Note: The event takes place during a normal PGA Tour Event. But, due to time differences between the United States and Malaysia, the TV schedule begins Late Wednesday night – in the States – instead of Thursday morning.