The “official” PGA Tour season ended last week at Disney in exciting fashion as world No. 1 Luke Donald rallied on Sunday to win the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic to claim the PGA Tour money title over Webb Simpson and he also likely cemented his PGA Tour Player of the Year honors. Donald also is attempting to win the money title on the European Tour and be the first to take honors on both Tours in the same season.
Normally the Player of the Year would have been announced this week. But the PGA Tour decided Monday to wait two weeks before sending ballots to the players because of the HSBC Champions in Shanghai, a World Golf Championship event next week that counts as official if a PGA Tour member wins it (but not toward the money list, same as this one). The plan was for the ballots to go out Tuesday until Tour officials realized a change in the schedule. A year ago, the HSBC Champions was played the week before the season-ending event at Disney. This is a non-Ryder Cup year, so the WGC event is two weeks after.
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This week the PGA Tour stages its only event in Southeast Asia at the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic Malaysia at the Mines Resort & Golf Club outside Kuala Lumpur. It’s the second year of this tournament and there will be a 48-player field this year (no cut), including several top Indian players (there are 10 from the Asian Tour) as this is co-sponsored by the PGA and Asian Tours. Weather could play a major role this week with scorching temperatures, high humidity and heavy rains forecast.
Still, look for some low scores here. Last year the scoring average was 68.606 which, if included among official Tour stops, would have ranked as the easiest par-71 since 2007. Half of the field of 40 completed 72 holes double digits under par.
Ben Crane won this tournament last year and is back to defend, while Brandt Snedeker is the highest-rated player in this year’s field at No. 27 in the world. There are some good other players entered, including Vijay Singh (who got his first pro win in Malaysia), Angel Cabrera, Camilo Villegas, Lucas Glover, Stewart Cink and Robert Allenby, to name a few.
PGA Tour Odds: CIMB Asia Pacific Classic Malaysia Favorites
Crane and Snedeker opened as the co-favorites on Bodog at 14/1 this week. Last year, Crane posted a final round of 2-under-par 69 and won here by a stroke over Brian Davis. Crane was 2-under on his opening nine Sunday, but on the back nine he gave up the lead to Martin Laird after he posted three consecutive bogeys starting at the 12th hole. Crane was able to retake the lead after an eagle at the par-4 16th hole, but Davis closed his round with birdie-eagle-birdie finish to tie Crane for the lead. Crane was still tied for the lead going into the final hole, but he was able to birdie the hole for the championship.
And Crane enters off a victory, winning the McGladrey Classic in a playoff for his first Tour win of the year. He was seven shots behind the leader with 11 holes remaining, but, remarkably, birdied eight of his last 11 holes in regulation. Then he won on the second hole of the playoff when Simpson missed a short par putt. Snedeker, meanwhile, also has one win this year and also played at the McGladrey, finishing T32. He has seven Top 10s this year and hasn’t missed a cut since mid-August. Snedeker didn’t play here last year.
Villegas is next at 16/1 as he plays for the first time here. This year has been a bit of a struggle, as Villegas has just five Top-25 finishes. But in his final four tournaments Stateside, he had three Top 10s.
PGA Tour Odds: CIMB Asia Pacific Classic Malaysia Interesting Longer Shots
I really like Indian star Jeev Milkha Singh at 40/1. The two-time Asian Tour Order of Merit winner was previously a member of the PGA Tour before giving up his card earlier this year to concentrate playing in Asia and Europe. The six-time Asian Tour winner has been dealing with a back injury, but he took a few weeks off before this tournament. He only has a few Top-10 finishes on the Euro Tour this year, but you know he wants to show up big here and should contend.
However, I think Carl Pettersson wins at 25/1. He started the final round here last year alone in second place two strokes back of the lead, and then shot 73 to finish T15 (totaling 21 birdies over the four rounds). The Swede finished the year strong on the PGA Tour, not missing a cut since Canadian Open in late July. And he was Top 20 in his final three tournaments, including a T5 at the Shiners tournament in Vegas.