Kuala Lumpur G & CC is fast becoming a familiar venue amongst golf watchers and bettors in recent years. Now host to both the PGA Tour's CIMB Classic and the European Tour's Malaysian Open, we have plenty of info to go on for profiling a winner. Indeed there is a dominant theme looking at recent winners of both events - one of players who excel in the driving department and tee to green game.
Ryan Moore - 21.00 - has gone back to back in the two previous editions at Kuala Lumpur G&CC for the CIMB Classic, and strangely enough Gary Woodland - 41.00 - has been runner-up to him twice as well. Henrik Stenson - 7.50 - is the man to beat according to the market this year while Sergio Garcia may be worth chancing at 19.00. The hot and humid conditions are always a factor here in Kuala Lumpur and may also be an angle to exploit. The CIMB Classic is a reduced field 78 man event with no cut.
The Course - Kuala Lumpur G & CC (West)
I mentioned a strong tee to green game shared by recent winners here but a deeper look at the top 10 stats suggests an all-round ability is necessary to succeed around Kuala Lumpur G&CC. Run offs were introduced to selected green complexes in recent years so scrambling ability has become more a prominent attribute to have. It was described last year by a touring pro as a course with "72 birdie chances" but conditions were softer than expected this week.
The pristine Kuala Lumpur G&CC is one of the shortest tracks across both tours measuring under 7,000 yards, playing to a par of 72. The parkland style but sparsely tree-lined track features elevation changes and undulations throughout, placing some emphasis on distance control and course management. Water hazards lurk on most holes so smart play will be needed but flags must be attacked in the right spots here as low numbers are recorded.
Three from the pack
Anirban Lahiri - 21.00 or 5.00 - will bid to lock up the Asian Tour money list this week. It's also his first start as a PGA Tour member and he'll be looking to start the 2016 season fast in the co-sanctioned event. "He’s won here before, he likes the course, he’s in form. I know he’s tired but this course really suits him,” said Scott Hend on Lahiri, referring to Anirban's win on the West course here in the Malaysian Open earlier in the year. This win included a third round 62 and followed a top 10 in 2014 here on the European Tour. "This is as close to home as it gets for me, and I'm just comfortable on this golf course,” said Lahiri, who comes here with recent form figures of T5 - T6 - T16 - T2 -T7. The Indian continues his battle with Matt Fitzpatrick and Benny An for Rookie of the year.
Adam Scott warmed up for the CIMB Classic with an appearance at the Japan Open where he finished seventh. Watching videos of Scott this week, his swing looks good and he seemed in good spirit in the press conference. The strong theme of tee to green game comes into play here for me. Scott is still ranked 15th in total driving, eighth in ball striking and 16th in GIR% on the PGA Tour in 2015 despite an off year and this is a track that should suit the Aussie. 29.00 or 6.50 the place is too big a price to ignore for me in this field.
Scott Piercy - 51.00 or 10.00 - is another player who is overpriced for me this week. Piercy is an aggressive player who ranked 45th in birdie average last season. He has the ability to go low and is simmering form wise since a win at the Barbasol Championship a few months back. He came close in esteemed company at the BMW Championship with a third place finish and again, I think the Kuala Lumpur course may suit. Piercy finished 67-68-68 for a top 25 after a poor opening round last week at the Shriners where he hit 73.61% of greens in regulation.