The DFS preview and picks for the CIMB Classic
Course: TPC Kuala Lumpur (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
Yardage: 7,005 yards – Par 72
Purse : $ 7M
Field: 78 Players
Recent CIMB Classic Winners
Kevin Tway got the 2018-19 PGA Tour season started off with his first career victory, earning him a spot inside the Top 100 in the official world golf ranking, as well. Tway was able to get into a three-man playoff with Brandt Snedeker and Ryan Moore by birdieing the final two holes in regulation. He went on to birdie all three playoff holes to become the 2018 Safeway Open Champion. Tway, the son of golf legend Bob Tway, will now get that coveted spot in the Masters, and is guaranteed a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour. With his now guaranteed spot on Tour, Tway will look to chase and eventually better his father’s eight career wins that included a PGA Championship victory in 1986.
The CIMB Classic is an event co-sanctioned by the PGA and Asian Tour. Held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, this event is comprised of just 78 players as opposed to the usual 140-156 man fields. Of the 78 players, 60 are from the PGA TOUR, 10 players are from the Asian Tour and eight players get in on a sponsor’s exemption. Despite a minor wrist injury, 2015 and 2016 CIMB Champion Justin Thomas will be headlining the field this week. Alongside Thomas will be a solid group of players that includes the 2013 and 2014 CIMB Champion, Ryan Moore, last year’s champion Pat Perez, Billy Horschel, Xander Schauffele, Paul Casey, Brandt Snedeker, Keegan Bradley, Marc Leishman, Gary Woodland, Emiliano Grillo, Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Kyle Stanley. That list of players makes up your 9K and up range, but there is still some solid talent below that, as the 78-man field is not necessarily a weak one. Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace, Byeong-Hun An, Cameron Smith, Perez, Tway, Beau Hossler, Thomas Pieters, Si-Woo Kim, Jimmy Walker and Thai sensation Kiradech Aphibarnrat make up that group. Unlike last week, this field is pretty deep, although not top heavy; there are 25 players in this field that rank inside the Top 75 in the world, and another handful within the Top 100.
Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club has been host to the CIMB Classic since 2013. A par-72 track playing just a shade over 7,000 yards, this course has yielded some very low scores in the past, as evidenced by recent winning scores that range from 23- to 26-under. Since we can assume that winning score will be in the 20s again this year, that means birdie or better percentage is a must this week for success. Strokes gained: approach, the usual staple in golf success will be doubly important this week. With scores predicted to be very low, that means you better be striking your approach shots near the hole or you’ll find yourself behind the eight ball quickly. In order to get a leg-up on the field this week players need to shred the Par 5s at Kuala Lumpur. There are some very gettable eagle opportunities so a good mix of Par 5 scoring, and approach proximity 200-225 yards will be key for players to have eagle opportunities and tap-in birdies. As a baseline for success here, strokes gained: off-the tee will be a need. Kuala Lumpur has a number of water hazards waiting to meet you on both drives and approach shots. Take players who strike the ball well off the tee and they will have a number of wedges into greens this week. With the tournament being played in Malaysia, viewing will be a challenge. Make sure to get your lineups in by Wednesday night because they’ll be teeing off around midnight eastern on Thursday.
Birdie or Better percentage
Strokes Gained: Approach
Par 5 Scoring
Approach Proximity 200-225 yards
Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee
2018 CIMB DFS Picks
Xander Schauffele ($10,400) Xander Schauffele has some of the biggest upside in this tournament. While the safe floor play is to go with Justin Thomas, I’m getting a little contrarian with some of my picks this week as these early-season tournaments can be harder to predict. Schauffele was playing pretty well down the stretch last year, making it all the way to the Tour Championship. He’s one of the best Par 5 players on Tour, as he finished 16th in Par 5 birdie or better percentage last season. Schauffele looked very good at this course last season, finishing third.
Gary Woodland ($9,700) Woodland is another player who was in good form down the stretch last season, finishing 11th in the Tour Championship. Woodland is the type of player who can bomb it but does so accurately, ranking fourth in strokes gained: off-the-tee last season.. I’m predicting that Woodland will dismantle some of these Par 5s and make a couple of eagles this week, vaulting him up the rankings. Woodland was also 14th in approach proximity from: 200-225 yards last season. If he keeps his drives straight that should be his distance into a few of the Par 5s this week.
Danny Lee ($8,100) We need to get on the Danny Lee train fast before he goes back to finishing 132nd next week. Lee is one of the most confusing players on Tour. He has the ability to finish inside the Top 5 in a good amount of Tournaments, and does occasionally, but when his game is off, it’s really off. Lee put up a solid showing last week, finishing tenth at the Safeway Open. Lee’s recent form combined with the fact that he finished seventh at the CIMB last year are the reasons why I’m going with him. That, and the fact that most people in this price range will be going with Kevin Tway (winner last week) or Pat Perez (CIMB winner last year).
Thomas Pieters ($7,500) The bombing Belgian is an enticing play. Because Pieters isn’t a PGA Tour member we don’t have his stats from last year. What we do know about Pieters is that he can hit the ball a very long way, and go on crazy birdie runs when his game is clicking. At the very least, you know that Pieters is more talented than a good chunk of the players in the 8K range, and that’s enough for me to give him the nod in this spot.
Stewart Cink ($7,200) Stewart Cink is my nice boring safe play this week. Still doing it for fantasy golf owners at the age of 45, Cink was a great value play a number of times last year, including in this tournament, where he finished T13 in 2017. Even though his Ryder Cup days are well past him, Cink is still one of the best iron players on Tour, ranking eighth in strokes gained: approach last season. With no cut, Cink should be able to make it into the top half of the field, and hopefully the Top 15 like last season.
Jamie Lovemark ($6,800) Lovemark was cut last week at the Safeway Open, but he did finish on Friday with a 68, a nice silver lining. Lovemark finished inside the Top 10 in a number of tournaments last season. His stats don’t look particularly enticing this week, but at this price he’s a solid value considering his talent. Lovemark’s best ability is to make birdies and eagles on the Par 5s, he birdied (or better) 47 percent of the Par 5s that he played during the 2017-18 season. If he can make a few birdies on the Par 3s and 4s, he’ll easily outplay his price tag.