The 2017-2018 PGA Tour Season is officially underway as last week’s Safeway Open featured Brendan Steele becoming the winner for the second year in a row. This week is the CIMB Classic which takes place in Malaysia. The host course to this event is TPC Kuala Lumpur – West Course which is a very short Par 72 measured at just over 7,000 yards. It is one of the easiest courses on tour so it is anticipated that this leaderboard is going to be filled with birdies like it usually is. The greens are very slow so, as past years prove, it helps guys whose putting is not their strong suit. Another thing to note is that there is no cut this week so every golfer in the field will be playing all 4 rounds unless they withdrawal from the tournament. Other than course history and recent form, the statistics that are important to look out for are proximity (approaches from 50-125 yards), Par 4 scoring average (specifically less than 450 yards) , and Par 5 birdie or better %. Now, let’s get into some picks!
Top Price Tier: ($8,000 +)
Anirban Lahiri DK $8,200 FD $8,200
Lahiri has a lot of confidence coming into this new PGA Tour season as he finished off a solid year with a T9 at the BMW Championship and a spot on the international team at the Presidents Cup. He is certainly looking to build on this and get off to a good start this season. Lahiri has participated at the CIMB Classic in each of the last 4 years. His best two finishes have come most recently in 2015 and 2016, T21 and T3, respectively. Being an international player and all, born in India, Lahiri has the great experience of travelling over the world and playing at different courses. Moreover, Lahiri is a solid birdie maker. He finished 14th in BoB% last season. On Par 5’s he was 18th in the PGA (48.60%) and on Par 4’s he was 25th in the PGA (18.39%). His short approach game is a large reason he makes a lot of birdies. He ranked 31st in proximity on approaches from 100-125 yards. Looking for guys that make a lot of birdies is huge for a tournament like this. Lahiri is a great place to start.
Mid Price Tier: ($7,000 – $8,000)
Nick Taylor DK $7,600 FD $5,000
The 29 year old from Winnipeg, Canada is coming off one of his better seasons in the PGA Tour. Taylor made 20/29 cuts with 8 Top 25 finishes. Taylor participated in the Safeway Open last week and had a great showing as he accumulated 17 birdies over the 4 rounds. Prior to that he had an admirable T56 finish at the Dell Technologies Championship. He has competed at the CIMB Classic once in his career and that was a T47 finish in 2015. Taylor has a decent all-around game in essentially all categories except for putting. As mentioned earlier, the putting greens at this course are slower than the typical PGA Tour Course so he should find more success putting the ball here. Not to mention, Taylor was 19th in the field for SG:Putting last week at the Safeway Open, so as recent form goes, putting is not a problem for Nick. Moreover, Taylor had a lot of approach attempts from 50-125 yards last week and he was pretty successful as he averaged a distance of 15’ 1” to the hole. He has always been a solid Par 5 player. Last year on tour, he finished T18 in Par 5 scoring average and 48th in birdie or better % at 44.33%. On Par 4’s measured between 300-350 yards, Taylor had a scoring average of 3.643 on 42 attempted holes which was good enough for 22nd in the PGA. Overall, a Top 30 finish is definitely within reach in a relatively weaker field event here at the CIMB Classic.
Low Price Tier (< $7,500):
Hudson Swafford DK $6,900 FD $5,500
Swafford, especially looking at his past results and course history, probably should not be priced this low. He has made 5 of his last 6 cuts and all 5 finishes have been in the Top 45, including the last 3 in a row. He has participated at the CIMB Classic twice in his entire career, the last two years, and finished decently T29 and T24. His great driving and approach game make him a solid play on any given week, especially this week due to the slow greens. His approach game from 50-125 yards ranked 47th in the PGA last season. His Par 5 scoring average was 27th and his BoB% was 24th at 47.84%. On Par 4s between 300 and 350 yards, Swafford was 43rd in the PGA with a scoring average of 3.697. From 350-400 yards, Swaff was 66th in the PGA with a better scoring average than tour average. Overall, Swafford’s recent form and experience at this course should make him a great play from the value range this week.