The 2016-17 PGA Tour wraparound season got underway last weekend with the Safeway Open in northern California, and American Brendan Steele shot a final-round 65 to rally for a one-shot win over Patton Kizzire, who shot 70 on Sunday at Silverado. It was Steele's first victory in 141 starts on the PGA Tour dating to his rookie season when he won the Valero Texas Open.
Steele led last year's same tournament, then called the Frys.com Open, after three rounds but shot a 4-over 76 on Sunday -- including a 40 on the back nine -- to finish T17. This victory got Steele into the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in the New Year as well as the Masters. Steele used to putt with the club anchored, but of course that was outlawed at the start of 2016. He actually switched in 2014 but was 166th on Tour last season in putting outside of 10 feet. Steele was second in that statistic last week and led the field with a +3.430 in Strokes Gained: Putting on Sunday.
Kizzire led by two shots Sunday after making birdie on three of his first 11 holes, but he didn't make another birdie the rest of the way. My pick to win at +2500 was Kevin Na, who lost the 2015 event in a playoff. He made a run on Sunday with a 66 to finish in seventh at 15 under, three shots behind Steele. I hit on Na at +250 for a Top 10. I also hit Englishman Paul Casey at +120 for a Top 10 as he finished T3 for his fourth straight PGA Tour event in the Top 4. Also hit on Casey at even money as the top European in the field and at -125 head-to-head over Matt Kuchar (-105). Lastly, I was correct on Justin Thomas for a Top 10 at +225 and head-to-head at -125 over John Rahm (-105). So a pretty good start to the season.
This week the Tour heads to the TPC Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia for the CIMB Classic -- it's the first of a two-week Asian swing with the big-money WGC-HSBC Champions in China up next. This is a limited field of just 78 and 10 spots are held for top Asian Tour players.
Thomas won his first PGA Tour event here last year, birdieing Nos. 15-17 on Sunday after a double bogey on the 14th. Thomas holed a 6-foot par putt on the 18th to beat Adam Scott, who shot a final-round 63, by a shot. Thomas' 26-under score of 262 was a tournament scoring record in relation to par. Na and Steele tied for third at 24 under. This tournament has only been around since 2010; Ryan Moore was able to repeat in 2014. An American has won it every year.
Golf Odds: CIMB Classic Favorites
We have an unusual four-way tie for the favorite at +1200 at Bovada in Casey, Hideki Matsuyama, Patrick Reed and Scott. I mentioned above how well Casey is playing, but he has been 24th and 37th in his past two trips here. Matsuyama tees it up for the first time since the Tour Championship. He was fifth there and also fifth here a year ago. Matsuyama did just win in Japan.
Reed was the best American player at the Ryder Cup. He was 10th here a year ago. Scott had that runner-up here last year and an 11th-place finish in 2010. Scott had Top-10 results in all four FedEx Cup playoff events. Thomas is +1600 to repeat.
Golf Odds: CIMB Classic Picks
Scores will be very low again this year as the course measures just 7,005 yards but with four par 5s. For a Top 10, go with Scott (-125), Casey (-110) and Moore (+135). I'll stick with Casey as the top European (+150) the way he's going right now and Scott as the top Aussie (-165).
Head-to-head, I like Scott (-115) over Reed (-115), Russell Knox (-115) over Scott Piercy (-115), Steele (-135) over Branden Grace (+105), Casey (-125) over Matsuyama (-105), and Moore (-115) over Thomas (-115).
I'll go with Moore at +1400 to win here a third time. If there's a horse for the course it's him with those two wins, a fifth and a 10th. Moore also comes off a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship. You can get a prop of Reed, Moore and Thomas at +400 vs. the field (-650) if you want to limit risk. Might not be a bad idea.
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