The CIBM Classic preview with Skeeter McGillicuddy
Much like the European Tour the USPGA Tour has – to a much lesser extent certainly – spread its wings and this week heads to Malaysia for the CIBM Classic – won impressively last year by Justin Thomas….so was said of the 2015 CIBM Classic.
Thomas went on to win again in 2016 and have a stellar year to boot. He’s back this week as a 4/1 favourite and while he’s far and away a better player than last year he’s not a 4/1 shot – not here anyway.
The field at the TPC Kuala Lumpur is restricted to 78 and is a mix of Americans and locals with no cut – the first of 3 straight Asian based events with the same format.
The course itself is not the most challenging with a huge emphasis on hitting greens and converting. The last four versions of this event have been won my Ryan Moore 2013 and 2014, and Thomas 2015 and 2016 – and they hit greens and putted their way to victory.
Its worth noting that Thomas won the Player of the Year title with a bookend approach – winning early and late – with a much more muted season in between. High on confidence my concern is a snap hook he hit at the Tour Championship where upon his exemplary driving took a more left then right element to it. It was testimony to his confidence he nearly forced a playoff on the 72nd. Sure he’s had time to work on it but when you launch yourself off the ground it can go wrong.
Contenders include the aforementioned two time winners Thomas and Moore, Matsuyama who does well here but could be playing on empty and who’s form has clearly dipped. Kevin Na and two-time runner up Gary Woodland have great form around here and are in form. Scott Piercy opened with a -10 here in 2016-finished 17th at the Safeway last week after a near four-month break so must come here with confidence. Cabrera Bello has some great form here over five starts as does Schwartzel and James Hahn. As much as we cheered home Xander at the Tour Championship I can’t have him here – even in this restricted field -at 28/1.
Emiliano Grillo 1pt @ $67
Thomas Pieters 1pt @ $41
Emiliano Grillo one of our stable stars gets another run out this week. One of the Internationals wildcard for the Presidents Cup he picked himself up sufficiently to post a solid 28th at the Safeway last week, despite a weak finish. As a former winner that effort bodes well as we picked him here last year and he ran a creditable 17th. Grillo’s game was solid tee to green last week despite a less than average week off the tee but his putting let him down and his poor last round was more a result of the high winds – which he won’t get here. Eleven under through 54 last week until he was blown away strike me as man ready to shoot low.
1pt win at $67 with
Thomas Pieters comes here with an interesting PGA Tour record and some course form. Pieter’s has made just two cuts on tour since a fine 4th at the Masters but he’s only played six events – the other three majors and a WGC where he finished 4th amongst them. This is the guy who scored more points than anyone in the last Ryder Cup as a wildcard pick (a theme this week) so we know he can really play. Course form comes via the European Tour where he posted an 8th and 16th in the 2014 and 2015 Malaysian Opens. A much-developed player he comes here with some solid credentials – ranked 33RD in the world and 12th in the race to Dubai. Recent form is nothing to write home about but a change of scenery with soft conditions and his long, long game should suit this highly talented player who will ply his trade on the US Tour soon enough.
1 pt win @ $41 with