There is two-week break on the PGA Tour right now, with the Fall Series’ final event starting Nov. 8 at Disney before we really get into golf’s silly season. So this week, it’s a preview of the Asian Tour. Yep, you heard that right. It’s the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. But there’s a decent field, led by Tiger Woods, because of a good purse and a few financial incentives. Tiger no doubt got a nice chunk of change to play in Malaysia for the first time since he won the individual and team titles in the 1999 World Cup.
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The CIMB Classic began two years ago as essentially a limited-field exhibition that featured PGA Tour players and Asian Tour players. But it will become an official PGA Tour event starting in 2013, when the Tour begins its new season in October after the FedEx Cup competition (Fall Series will be no more). There are 10 players from the Asian Tour in this 48-man field, along with 30 PGA Tour pros and eight sponsor’s exemptions. The PGA Tour is making a big push into Asia, something the LPGA Tour already has done.
Competing alongside Tiger are nine others who have won on the PGA Tour in 2012: Johnson Wagner, Kyle Stanley, Bill Haas, John Huh, Carl Pettersson, Jason Dufner, Marc Leishman, Scott Piercy and Nick Watney. Also playing are 2011 CIMB Classic winner Bo Van Pelt and 2010 winner Ben Crane. Last year, Van Pelt birdied five of his final holes on Sunday for a 7-under 64 and a six-stroke victory. He finished 23-under at The Mines Resort and Golf Club and played the course’s three par-5 holes in a bogey-free 9-under.
And Van Pelt is playing well at the moment. Last week, he held off Dufner by shooting a 4-under 68 to win the inaugural Perth International by two shots Down Under. It was Van Pelt's first win since taking this event.
Asian Tour Golf Odds: CIMB Classic Favorites
Tiger is the 3/1 favorite at Bovada to no surprise. Woods ended his PGA Tour season by playing extremely well, closing with three straight Top-10 finishes. But Tiger was clearly off his game at the Ryder Cup. One has to wonder how motivated he will be since he already has been cut a check that probably dwarfs the $1.3 million winner’s prize.
Van Pelt is next at 8/1 with Dufner. I’ve mentioned Van Pelt in numerous of these previews as he is usually great value. Frankly, I am surprised he doesn’t have more than one PGA Tour victory (2009 U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee). Van Pelt obviously had it rolling in Australia last week and closed his PGA Tour season with back-to-back Top-10 finishes.
Dufner was an early PGA Tour Player of the Year candidate when he won twice and had a runner-up in four events in late April and into May. He didn’t close the Tour season great, with no better than T18 result in his three FedEx Cup events. He finished T10 at this tournament a year ago.
The favorites are rounded out by Nick Watney at 16/1 and Seung-yul Noh at 22/1. Watney won the playoff-opening Barclays but then wasn’t much of a factor in the rest of the FedEx Cup. He actually played a Fall Series event, finishing T10 at the Justin Timberlake in Vegas a few weeks ago. The South Korean Noh had a great rookie season on the PGA Tour with 13 Top-25 finishes. He also made it three events into the playoffs and didn’t miss a cut after mid-April. He has also posted two Top-10s in South Korea this year.
Asian Tour Golf Odds: CIMB Classic Picks
On the Top-10 finishes, take “yes” on Van Pelt (-225), Dufner (-275), Noh (+135) and Brendon De Jonge (+200). “No” on Tiger (+300, purely on value), Watney (-110) and Haas (-275).
On the top American prop, I like Jeff Overton at 14/1. He was the runner-up last year and set the course record with a second-round 62. He also has shot 70 or better in each of his last 12 competitive rounds this season.
As a long shot, I like Charlie Wi at 50/1. The 40-year-old South Korean has yet to win a PGA Tour event but has won nine times in Asia, including twice in Malaysia. He only got into this tournament when Rickie Fowler withdrew. Wi was T18 at this tournament in 2010. Take him as the top Asian at 4/1.
For the winner, I am going with De Jonge at 25/1. He finished T4 last week at the McGladrey Classic, his second straight Top 5 on the Fall Series. The Zimbabwean leads the Tour in total birdies and will be familiar with this course as he was T31 a year ago. De Jonge is also the 6/1 favorite on “top rest of the world player.”
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