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.
Thomas got the winners monkey off his back last year and while he failed to win again he showed us he has the potential to win and as we saw last week he delivered (sort of).
The field at the TPC Kuala Lumpur – branding, they love their branding – is restricted to 78 and is a mix of Americans and locals.
The course itself is not the most challenging with a field scoring average of 69.62 last year being amongst the very lowest recorded on the PGA Tour in the last 10 years. A par 72 at a nudge over 7,000 yrds with a bog standard mix of 3’s and 5’s this place is for the taking.
Thomas rocks up to defend but he is headed in the market by the inform trio of Casey, who’s on fire but can’t win, Matsuyama, trotted up in Japan Open last week but can’t get over the line on the PGA Tour, and Reed who’s done celebrating the Ryder Cup win and whose wife wants him out of the house. And Scott – who missed the cut last week.
A key stat emerges from last year that might point us in the right direction. Thomas won hitting 55 greens and yet was ranked T29. Lots of greens will be need to be hit and hit close by the winner and as always he will have a great putting week.
The obvious contenders include the market leaders alluded to and Ryan Moore – a two time winner, Kevin Na, should always run between shots, with two time runner up Gary Woodland also on a roll after his top 10 at Eastlake. Scott Piercy who opened with a -10 at the Safeway also opened with a -10 here last year so he can get hot but fails to sustain it.
Emiliano Grillo 1pt e/w @ $41
Emiliano Grillo – pronounced Grizzo according to an Argentinean I met in Le Touquet last week is our sole pick this week. Pure class, he has finished in the top 15 in eight of his last 13 starts which is a remarkable indicator of form. On top of this I’m sure he didn’t play very well generally by his potential standards. He does hit a lot of greens (76% last week ) and so its his putting right? Yes it is. A minus 0.209 strokes gained putting figure would seem to suggest that he’s no great shakes but stats need qualifying. He can look forlorn on the green and he misses putts and he does experiment but when you hit 76% of the greens naturally you’re strokes gained putting numbers are a reflection of proximity to the hole. Last season his overall numbers were 68.52% GIR and -.056 strokes gained putting. When he posts positive strokes gained putting he’s in contention. He actually improved after the The Players last season on the back of some changes and from that point onwards his results reflected this with five of his last nine 2016 season events yielding a positive figure, including a season’s best at The Barclays and a next best at the PGA.
1 pt e/w @ $41 with