PGA Tour Picks: CIMB Classic Odds and Expert Betting Predictions
The 2017-18 PGA Tour season began as the last one did: A Brendan Steele victory at the Safeway Open at the Silverado Resort in California's wine country (which is unfortunately burning down right now in spots). Last year, Steele got hot on the back nine Sunday to rally from four shots down and win at 18 under by a stroke. This time, he finished at 15 under to beat Tony Finau by two. Steele is the first player to win this event, which has been around since 2007, twice.
Steele started Sunday two shots behind relative unknown Tyler Duncan, but Duncan (in his second career Tour start) struggled right out of the gate and Steele had three birdies in his first nine holes. A double-bogey on 14 really killed Finau's chances, although he did have a 40-foot eagle putt on 18 to tie (settled for birdie) with Steele a few holes behind. The runner-up finish was Finau's best result since his lone Tour win at the Puerto Rico Open 17 months ago.
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Perhaps the biggest story from Napa was a Sunday charge by Phil Mickelson in the only California tournament he has never won. Lefty began the round four shots off the lead but birdied the 16th from 10 feet to move within one shot of Steele. However, his chances evaporated with a bogey on 17. He finished T3 at 12-under and tied for the lead with most birdies in the tournament with 23. Mickelson's T3 was his best finish since the 2016 British Open when he lost a stellar Sunday duel with Henrik Stenson.
My winning pick last week was Kevin Na at +2800. He played well the first three rounds but ballooned to a 77 on Sunday to finish T37 at 4 under. I did hit on Steele for a Top 10.
The next two events on Tour are in Asia, this week in Kuala Lumpur for the CIMB Classic. TPC Kuala Lumpur's West Course is a par 72 measuring 7,005 yards; the LPGA Tour has an annual event on the East Course. It's a limited-field event of 78 with 10 spots held for Asian Tour players. No Asian Tour pro has won the CIMB Classic, which has been around since 2010.
Justin Thomas was recently named PGA Tour Player of the Year for 2016-17 with five victories and the FedExCup $10 million prize. His season started here, where Thomas repeated. He shot 26-under 262 in the fall of 2015 to win by a stroke over Adam Scott. Last year, he shot 23-under to beat out Hideki Matsuyama by three. Thomas began Sunday four behind leader Anirban Lahiri, but Thomas shot a 64 and Lahiri had a quad on the par-5 third. Thomas became the first man to successfully defend a title anywhere on the PGA Tour since Matt Every at the 2015 Arnold Palmer Invitational. The last guy to threepeat at any event is Steve Stricker from 2009-11 at the John Deere Classic, which is held the week before the British Open. An American has won every staging of this tournament.
Golf Odds: CIMB Classic Favorites
Thomas is the +400 favorite, to no surprise, at Bovada . Only two other players in the past 12 years have won the same tournament at least three straight times: Tiger Woods (three times) and Stuart Appleby (Sentry Tournament of Champions 2004-06). Thomas' last PGA Tour event was the Tour Championship, where he finished second (he was in Presidents Cup). He also won the second playoff event, the Dell Technologies Championship. His two wins here are his only two visits.
Matsuyama (+800) is one of nine members of the International team that was just waxed by the USA in the Presidents Cup in this field. He was 26 th in the Tour Championship and finished fifth in this tournament in 2015 in addition to that runner-up last year.
Paul Casey (+1000), Xander Schauffele (+2500), Lahiri (+2500) and Ian Poulter (+2500) round out the favorites. Casey has played here each of the past three years with a best finish of T21. Schauffele won the Tour Championship and was named PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. Lahiri had that third last year here but didn't contend the previous three visits. Poulter was T11 last time out at the British Masters and 16th here in 2016.
Golf Odds: CIMB Classic Picks
I guess you must bet Thomas for a Top-10 finish even though it's an absurd price of -275. I'll give Na another shot for one as well at +275 as he was third here in 2015 and runner-up the year before. For top American, Na is way better value at +1600 than Thomas at +250. Go Poulter (+350) as top European and Lahiri (+400) as top Asian.
Head-to-head, I like Scott Piercy (+115) over Rafael Cabrera Bello (-115), Thomas Pieters (-115) over Bud Cauley (-115), Casey (-125) over Schauffele (-105), Thomas (-135) over Matsuyama (+105), and Na (-115) over Pat Perez (-115).
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