The CIMB Classic at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club in Malaysia has been given full PGA Tour status this year, with an expanded line up that boasts much more quality than past renewals, giving punters plenty to ponder.
The first thing to consider is the change of venue. This is the first time this tournament has been staged at the par 72, 6,967-yard layout. However, in its current form it has held the last four Malaysian Opens on the European Tour, won this year by Kiradech Aphibarnrat.
The locals should have an advantage, not just because some have course experience under tournament conditions, but also as they will be able to cope with the humidity.
Still, it’s no surprise to see heavyweight American performers Phil Mickelson (8/1), Keegan Bradley (14/1) and Bubba Watson (33/1), towards the top of the betting. Lefty doesn’t usually travel to the Far East just to make up the numbers, as he has twice won in China.
However, since his Open success in July we haven’t seen the best of Mickelson and given his single digit quote he is easily passed over.
Americans have won all three previous CIMB Classics though, with the roll call of champions reading Ben Crane, Bo Van Pelt and Nick Watney.
Take 20/1 shot Watney out and you’ve got good but not great players (and only Watney’s Fedex Cup triumph elevates him above the others), with a journeyman feel about them.
And while the field is better this time around, I’m going to take a chance on a player who fits into that category – Chris Kirk, who is available at 40/1 with Ladbrokes.
The Tennessee professional has played steady, unspectacular golf since the summer, but his putting has stood out and he has experience of the conditions in Malaysia where he was fourth in this event when it was held at the Mines Resort last year.
Along with good putters, big hitters stood out in European Tour events staged at Kuala Lumpur G&CC and there are few longer off the tee than Scott Hend (80/1).
The Aussie ranked third in driving distance last week when he claimed his third title on the Asian Tour this year in Macau (his second win in his last three starts in fact).
Lastly, watch out for 250/1 shot Mohd Siddikur, who was eighth at this week’s venue in the 2011 Malaysian Open and has been dazzling on the greens in recent outings.
My three to follow – Kirk, Hend and Siddikur.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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