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Preview and Picks for the CIMB Classic 2018

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  • Preview and Picks for the CIMB Classic 2018

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    Last Week Review

    Brendan Steele was the “man of steel” as he defended his championship despite increased winds on Sunday. Golfers were fortunate enough to finish before wildfires began to engulf the Napa Valley.

    Here are last week’s picks:

    Golfer Position DK Pts
    T.Finau 2 111.00
    G.DeLaet T5 91.00
    L.Glover T30 70.50
    K.Na T37 80.00
    R.Garrigus T65 59.50
    M.Flores T65 57.00

    I made out well with the above as well as additional picks of Steele and long shot Maverick McNealy. All of my lineups made 6 of 6 on DK and my single lineup on FD went 8 of 8 allowing me to cash all of my cash games and a small cash in a small GPP. Overall, it was a positive ROI week for me. Now on to the next tournament!

    The Course

    We next find our next stop on the fall swing of the PGA Tour on the other side of the world at TPC Kuala Lumpur in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for the CIMB Classic. TPC Kuala Lumpur is a par 72, 7205 yard course with four par 3s and four 5s and has hosted the CIMB since the fall of the 2013-2014 season. The course was originally design by Nelson Howarth in 1991 followed by a redesign in 2007 by Parslow and Winter. The hole breakdown is as follows:

    Par 3 4
    Par 4 <400 4
    Par 4 400-450 4
    Par 4 450-500 2
    Par 4 >500 0
    Par 5 4
    Total 18

    Off the tee, golfers will see narrow to average width fairways that are easier than average to hit (~65%). The seashore paspalum greens are, however, easier than average to hit (GIR ~70%) and are average in size with only slight undulation. There are green side bunkers surrounding almost every green with false fronts on several holes and water is in play on many of the holes.

    The four par 5s are some of the easiest holes in the course (holes 3, 5, 10 and 18) with a birdie rate of 51%, 52%, 40%, and 28%, respectively last year. The finishing hole is the most difficult of the par 5s (and the longest) but still played under par last year. There are four par 4s that are under 400 yards enticing some golfers to drive to the green but caution is warranted due the water in play on 13 of 18 holes including all of the par 4s under 400 yards. Furthermore, the rough is usually long and very penal if golfers miss the fairway, and therefore, many golfers go less than driver off the tee. Lastly, weather can and often plays a role TPC Kuala Lumpur as it is usually hot, humid and wet.

    My Picks

    This is a limited field event with 78 golfers and no cut. It includes 60 from the FedEx Cup standings, 10 from the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit and 8 sponsors exemptions. Since the CIMB has been held at TPC Kuala Lumpur, there has been two back-to-back winners - Ryan Moore in 2013 and 2014 (-14 and -17, respectively) and Justin Thomas in 2015 and 2016 (-26 and -23, respectively). The winner, in addition to FedEx Cup points and official money, gets an automatic invitation to the Masters.

    This week, I will again focus on basic stats to find my core of golfers. As with every week T2G and birdies correlate highly among the winners especially birdies as this is a no cut event. P4 and P5 scoring also correlates highly with success on this course and golfers will need to score on the par 5s and the shorter par 4s to keep up with the field. Lastly, i’ll look to SG:APP, GIR and bogey avoidance to find those golfers who can get it on the green and avoid big numbers.

    Paul Casey (DK $10500, FD $9500) - This should be an obvious pick as he has probably the best year of his career last season leading into the playoffs. He even finishing 5th at the TOUR Championship despite a less than normal T2G (for him anyway) but with a hot putter. Otherwise, he was on a glorious run of made cuts since his only MC at the Sony (which is held in January) and a bunch top 5s and top 10s. Course history is trending upward since 2015 (21, 24, 37). In the last 12 rounds in the field, Casey is 13th T2G, 8th birdies, 31st P4 400-450, 1st GIR and 3rd BA. There is no reason to believe that he should not easily make a top 10 this year and maybe more.

    Branden Grace (DK $9200, FD $8700) - Grace had struggled at the end of the season missing two straight cuts at the PGA Championship and Northern Trust before finishing the year with a 25th at the Dell. In 2017, Grace played 20 events, missed only 3 cuts, made 7 top 25s and 2 top 10s. He has played the CIMB twice in 2016 and 2017 finishing 7th and 33, respectively. In the last 12 rounds in this field, Grace ranks 11th T2G, 37th birdies, 19th P4 400-450, 14th GIR and 19th BA. He is trending in the right direction and can see a high finish for Grace.

    Gary Woodland (DK $8700, FD $7900) - Woodland made a fairly decent run in the playoffs finishing 19th at the TOUR Championship despite the MC at the Northern Trust. Before that he was on a streak of 9 straight made cuts with a best 4th at the RBC Canadian Open. His course history at TPC Kuala Lumpur has been up and down finishing 2nd in 2014 and 2015 but finishing 56th in 2016 and 2017. Leading up to the CIMB in 2014 and 2015, he was trending favorably T2G compared to 2016 and 2017 and he is trending favorably again this year leading into the CIMB. In the last 12 rounds in the field, Woodland is 4th T2G, 1st birdies, 25th P4 400-450, 4th GIR and 39th BA. I suspect a nice rebound for Woodland and a top 10 finish.

    Kevin Na (DK $8200, FD $7100) - Na shot really well on Saturday with a 66 going into Sunday, but really struggled on Sunday and put up some really big numbers including a triple bogey on the 9th hole. Otherwise, he was trending up leading into the Safeway and should continue his positive trend into the CIMB where he has done quite well in the past three years (29, 3, 2). In the field in the last 12 rounds, he is 39th T2G, 17th birdies, 40th P4 400-450, 33rd GIR and 36th BA. He should continue his current upward trend into TPC Kuala Lumpur and should be a good addition to your lineups.

    James Hahn (DK $7400, FD $5900) - Hahn had a rocky finish to a very busy season missing the cut at the Northern Trust, a poor finish at the Dell (75th) and a middle of the road at the BMW (33rd). Hahn played 28 events last season with 20 made cuts, 1 top 3, 4 top 10s, and 8 top 25s. His course history is better in the last 2 years (9, 6, 56) even with poor form coming into the CIMB over the last two years. He’s 23rd in the field over the last 12 rounds T2G, 28th birdies, 37th GIR, 12th P4 400-450, and 185th BA. I'll ride his positive course history and say he’s probably good for another top 10.

    Bud Cauley (DK $7600, FD $6900) - Bud Cauley has been on a mini run that has been steadily improving over his last three events including a 7th last week at the Safeway where he gained 6.3 strokes T2G on the field. In his last 5 events, he averaged 3 strokes gained T2G and 1.9 strokes gained approach which indicates to me that he is rounding into form coming into the CIMB. In the field over the last 12 rounds, he is 7th T2G, 12th birdies, 4th GIR, 17th P4 400-450 and 23rd BA. I'm going to ride his current form and his skill set to a top 10.

    Anyway, I hope that this helps you in your own process to select your golfers for this week. Please leave me any questions, comments, suggestions or any rants and touts you would like to discuss either here on, on twitter @algertorr, or on DK/FD/FDR jayalger. Good luck this week!