The CIMB Classic comes from Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club in Malaysia this week. KLGCC is a 6,985 yard par 72 course that actually plays longer than it seems due to the oppressive humidity and the potential for rain every day. The ball won’t travel as far because of the thick air and it won’t roll out because of the sogginess of the fairways and greens. The fairways themselves are undulating, tree lined, and vary in width. Some are above average in size, others are very narrow. The greens are on the large side with a stimpmeter speed of around 11, but the speed of the greens will get slower if there is rain, which is forecasted to occur everyday during the tournament. There is plenty of trouble on this short course. Well positioned bunkers on fairways and around the greens can cause havoc for the golfers this week, plus there is water on 13 holes. There are also a lot of risk/reward type holes on this course with a couple of reachable par 4s and 2/4 par 5s being reachable by all. The other two par 5s can only be reached by the longest hitters. Just a reminder, because of the time zone difference the lineup lock for DraftKings is WEDNESDAY at 7pm. Get your lineups in early!
Looking at the course description above and trends from previous tournaments held here, a few key stats come to mind. I will be using these stats, current form, and course history to pick golfers for my DraftKings lineup this week. There is no cut this week so I will be a bit more aggressive when picking golfers.
Key Stats for the Course
***In order of importance with the most important first. Not including Strokes Gained Putting (SG:P), which is a key stat every week.
Strokes Gained Tee to Green (SG:T2G):
A combined six of the nine top finishers the last two years at the CIMB Classic have been 70th or better in SG:T2G for that specific year. Four have finished in the Top 30. SG:T2G is an important stat every week but based on trends it is the MOST important stat of the week and should be your focal point when doing research.
Par 4 Scoring (P4):
The par 4s vary wildly in distance and difficulty this week. Since only two of the four Par 5s are reachable by all, the par 4s are where most of the scoring will have to take place to do well. In the last two years five of the Top 9 finishers have been inside the Top 28 in this stat at the end of that specific year.
Birdie or Better % (BoB):
Ryan Moore, the two time winner at KLGCC made over 50 birdies combined in his two victories here. Bogeys will be prevalent due to the weather conditions and well placed hazards around the golf course (Moore had almost 20 bogeys combined in his two victories) so lots of birdies will have to be made to make up for the bogeys. Six of the Top 9 golfers the last two years at KLGCC have finished inside the Top 48 in this stat at the end of that specific year.
Total Driving (TD):
Looking at the driving stats for the golfers who finished high at KLGCC the last two years you notice an even blend of long hitters and accurate hitters. Golfers that can combine the two will have an advantage because if they can hit the ball long and accurate this short course should play very easy, the weather not withstanding. Six of the Top 9 golfers the last two years have finished 85th or better in TD for that specific year.
High End Picks ($9000 and up)
*** I will be using stats from last season.
Henrik Stenson ($12100):
Stenson is the best player in the field. He’s #1 in key stats for the course and #1 in current form with two 2nd place finishes and a 10th in his last three events. His price might be high but I expect a Top 5 finish with the possibility of a win.
Hideki Matsuyama ($10900):
If you don’t want to pay up for Stenson, Hideki makes a fine choice. I have him as my third ranked golfer behind Stenson and Na. Unlike many of his peers, he doesn’t have to ride on a plane for 18 hours or deal with jet lag and a huge time change. This could be a slight advantage this week. Stat wise he’s 8th in SG:T2G, 3rd in P4, 7th in BoB, and 12th in TD. He putted much better during the Presidents Cup and if he can continue that form with the flatstick he has a chance to win.
Kevin Na ($10800):
Na finished 2nd the last two weeks and finished 2nd last year at KLGCC. He’s due for a victory and with his current form and course history, this could be the week. The one worry I have for him is that he might be tired physically and mentally. Being in contention until the final hole two weeks in a row and not getting over the hump can be draining on a golfer. Add a long flight, time change, oppressive humidity, and little practice he could disappoint this week. I’ll still be using him but only in GPPs. He probably will be highly owned in cash games, so I can see the argument to have him in cash lineups, but I still won’t have him in mine.
Ryan Moore ($9900):
Moore is the two time defending champion at this event. As expected, his stats for the course are solid. He’s 43rd in SG:T2G, 74th in P4, 38th in BoB, 53rd in TD, and 64th in SG:P. He’s another high priced golfer that has played the previous two weeks but I’m worried less about him than Kevin Na because of his course history and mentally Moore might have an edge because he wasn’t in contention at the very end of both tournaments like Na. Less draining.
Justin Thomas ($9600):
JT is an up and coming star who has two Top 13s in his last two starts including a 3rd place finish two weeks ago at the Frys.com Open. He is also ranked 6th in my key stats for the course. He’s 17th in SG:T2G, 26th in P4, 6th in BoB, 41st in TD, and was 32nd in SG:P at the Frys.com Open. He didn’t play last week and got to Malaysia earlier than most. I think he can win this week.
Paul Casey ($9500):
Casey had a good 2015 and played well in his last few starts on Tour during the Fed Ex Cup Playoffs. He has course experience and has great stats for the course. He’s 10th in SG:T2G, 10th in P4, 31st in BoB, and 8th in TD. If he can improve his SG:P stat this week he could make some noise this weekend.
Harris English ($9100):
I struggled between English and Danny Lee for my final high end pick. They both have similar solid stat averages, good course history, and great current form on Tour. I chose English because I’m worried about Lee’s mindset after his disappointing performance at the Presidents Cup. This is his first tournament since then so I will have a wait and see approach with Lee before I use him. English finished 7th here in 2013 and has three Top 22 finishes in his last three events.
Mid Level Golfers ($7100-$8900)
Daniel Berger ($8600):
The 2015 Rookie of the Year is a steal at $8600. He finished last year extremely strong and even made it to the Tour Championship. He’s 33rd in SG:T2G, 50th in P4, 36th in BoB, and 18th in TD. I think he’s a safe play in all formats this week.
Robert Streb ($8200):
Streb is another golfer I like because of the price. $8200 is solid and I think he will be under owned because of his missed cut at the Frys. He’s 27th in SG:T2G, 18th in P4, 22nd in BoB, 53rd in TD, and 24th in SG:P. He’s a cash lineup candidate this week.
Brendan Steele ($8000):
Steele is another golfer that could be under owned due to his missed cut last week. The MC last week might actually help him because he had a couple of days off and didn’t have to rush to get to Malaysia. He finished 25th here in 2013 and has two Top 17 finishes the two tournaments before last week including a 54 hole lead at the Frys. He’s 15th in SG:T2G, 10th in P4, 14th in BoB, and 16th in TD. He is a solid high upside GPP play for his price.
Nick Watney ($7900):
Watney has two Top 20 finishes in his last three events and has course experience at KLGCC. He’s 32nd in SG:T2G, 26th in P4, 52nd in BoB, and 53rd in TD. Another Top 20 finish is not out of reach.
Matt Jones ($7300):
In non cut events, I like to target outstanding putters at the lower pricing levels. Matt Jones falls into this category. He’s 20th in SG:P, 72nd in SG:T2G, 50th in P4, 15th in BoB, and 60th in TD. I think he makes for a low owned, high upside GPP play this week.
Kevin Chappell ($7300):
Chappell has two Top 25 finishes at the CIMB Classic and has above average stats for the course this week. He’s 85th in SG:T2G, 50th in P4, 48th in BoB, 27th in TD, and 61st in SG:P. He has played the last two weeks but he has done this before playing twice at KLGCC in the past. He should know what he’s doing and adjusting should come easier.
Jerry Kelly ($7000):
Kelly finished 19th at KLGCC in 2013 and has made his last three cuts on Tour including a Top 10 finish at the Deutsche Bank Classic a few weeks ago. He’s 69th in SG:T2G, 26th in P4, 50th in BoB, 82nd in TD, and 44th in SG:P. He makes for a solid safe play this week.
Stewart Cink ($7000):
Cink has made his last three cuts including a 9th place finish a few weeks back at the Dunhill Classic. He has played KLGCC twice with an 11th place finish in 2013. He’s 56th in SG:T2G, 26th in P4, 74th in BoB, and 81st in SG:P. I think he has a Top 30 finish in him this week which would be great for his price in cash lineups.
Low End Value Picks ($6200-$6900)
Kyle Reifers ($6800):
Reifers is the type of golfer who either misses the cut or does much better than his price suggests. Perfect for GPPs in events with no cut. He has three Top 25s including two Top 10s in his last six events. He also has two missed cuts in that span. Purely a high upside, low priced GPP play this week.
Hudson Swafford ($6800):
Swafford was playing some solid golf before his missed cut last week. His stats for the course are solid except for SG:T2G. He’s 50th in P4, 23rd in BoB, 10th in TD, and 26th in SG:P. Another good putting, low priced golfer I like for GPPs this week.
Pat Perez ($6600):
Perez had a very consistent season last year but has missed his last three cuts on Tour. His stats for the course are exceptional for his price. He’s 80th in SG:T2G, 10th in P4, 18th in BoB, 81st in TD, and 25th in SG:P. He also has experience at KLGCC with a 33rd place finish last year. Because of his current form, he is only a GPP punt play this week but with his solid stats for the course, he could over perform.
James Hahn ($6600):
Hahn has above average stats for the course and he is cheap. He’s 66th in SG:T2G, 95th in P4, 85th in BoB, 62nd in TD, and 91st in SG:P. He also has experience at KLGCC and made his last two cuts on Tour. I’m not loading up on him but I can see him doing better than people think this week.
John Peterson ($6300):
Peterson actually has the best SG:T2G rank (47th) of anybody under $7000. I think it’s going to be the most important stat this week so thats a good start for this LSU Tiger. His other stats aren’t half bad, either. He’s 26th in P4 and 31st in TD. There’s no cut so using him as a flier in GPPs might not be a bad idea. You can then load up on more talented golfers.