Today's Free Picks for
Posted Wednesday, October 11 at 1:45 PM EST.
The CIMB Classic
Note that this event starts on WEDNESDAY night with cutoff toimes being around 8 PM EST.
It was in Kuala Lumpur that JT’s incredible 2017 began, and so he will have plenty of happy memories to take to Asia on the back of his PGA Championship and FedExCup glories. The CIMB Classic is the first of three events on the other side of the world, with the brand-new CJ Cup taking place in Korea next week and the WGC HSBC Champions the following week in Shanghai. There’s a generous amount of prize money sloshing about in this trio of tournaments, as well as a full quota of FedExCup points, so there will be no let-up as more players shake off the post-season dust and prepare for a potentially profitable couple of weeks. TPC Kuala Lumpur has hosted the CIMB Classic since 2013, and in the past couple of years it has been a breeze for the players to tame, with Justin Thomas’ winning scores being -26 and -23.
This Week's Course Preview
TPC Kuala Lumpur has hosted the CIMB Classic since 2013, and in the past couple of years it has been a breeze for the players to tame, with Justin Thomas’ winning scores being -26 and -23.
That is perhaps a consequence of the weather, which is notoriously stormy in Malaysia at this time of year. While the fairways are reasonably tight, these are made easier by the usually soft conditions which are derived from the thunderstorms that blight the area in October.
Designed by Nelson & Haworth and opened in 1991, the West Course was reworked by Geoff and Ted Parslow in 2008. It is a fairly usual test that you might see on the Asian Tour, although the US players seem to enjoy it nonetheless with seven of the first 10 players home in 2015 coming from America. Fairways are regulation-size but the greens are slightly larger than average, and these run pretty sluggishly due to the amount of rain around. They are receptive, naturally, but Proximity to the Hole is of paramount importance on the generously-sized surfaces. The fairways and rough are made up of Seashore Paspalum, with the greens of Seaisle Supreme disposition. This provides a unique test for the players, and is perhaps one reason why there are a number of repeat performers at TPC Kuala Lumpur.
Course Notes to Target
Make birdies – tons of them. There’s no secret to success at TPC Kuala Lumpur, and unfortunately due to the soft and wet conditions, it is likely to be one of those point and shoot’ approach shootouts that often unfold in such scenarios so it really will all be about the approach play this week. Playing out of the rough will be no fun, so accuracy off the tee is a good idea, but really it’s going to be all about that second shot on the Par 4s and 5s and landing as close to the pin as possible. So, who typically does well in these conditions? You would argue that the in-form players have more of an advantage than ever, as their irons will be locked in tight. A quick perusal of Strokes Gained: Approach stats from the Safeway Open and the last few FedExCup events will also outline how confident the players are in their medium to long game. It may be coincidental, it may not, but form shown at the Safeway Open has just occasionally been a trigger for a decent showing at the CIMB Classic too. Last year Justin Thomas (T8 at Silverado), Derek Fathauer (T15) and Keegan Bradley (T22) had played well in the Safeway prior to finish first, T3, and sixth respectively in Malaysia, while in 2015 strong showings from Kevin Na (T2), Thomas again (T4), Hideki Matsuyama (T17) and Brendan Steele (T17) at Silverado were followed a week later by T3, first, fifth, and T3 respectively in Kuala Lumpur. That said, we cannot get behind guys like JT (4-1), Brendan Steele (28-1), Chez Reavie (45-1) or Bud Cauley (40-1) because the odds are too low. Reavie and Cauley, who both had good showings at Silverado, may not seem low but we want higher odds on them because they seldom win. Thus, we’re looking once again for sleepers to be in the mix like we had last week with Chesson Hadley and HVIII. Hopefully one or more of the following will be on the first page of the leaderboard on Sunday.
That said, we cannot get behind guys like JT (4-1), Brendan Steele (28-1), Chez Reavie (45-1) or Bud Cauley (40-1) because the odds are too low. Reavie and Cauley, who both had good showings at Silverado, may not seem low but we want higher odds on them because they seldom win. Thus, we’re looking once again for sleepers to be in the mix like we had last week with Chesson Hadley and HVIII. Hopefully one or more of the following will be on the first page of the leaderboard on Sunday.
Unless otherwise stated, the following bets to win outright will be placed at Bet365 because of their cash-out option during the event.
Graeme DeLaet 45-1
While we usually prefer higher than 45-1, Graeme DeLaet is so close to breaking through that we have to get behind him here. There are a few other very good options at this price point but DeLaet is our pick of the litter courtesy of the ‘plays well at the Safeway Open, will play well at the CIMB’ narrative. The Canadian ranked first for SG: Approach and fourth for SG: Tee-to-Green at Silverado, and that suggests he is flushing his irons and wedges right now. At a wet TPC Kuala Lumpur, that bodes very nicely. The other advantage to DeLaet is that his course form (T7 in 2013) is a good foundation from which to build upon. Delaet ranks 3rd ON TOUR in Total Driving, 22nd ON TOUR in Greens in Regulation and 29th in SG: Approach-the-Green. Again, he’s on the verge of a win and this could be the week (Risking 0.2 units to win 9 units).
Haotong Li 66-1
At this point of the season, you will often read a lot of different reports covering the players that pundits expect to make a big splash in 2018. From the European Tour, much of the coverage will focus on the precociously-talented Li, who at the tender age of 22 has already secured his first title and finished in the top-five of a major (third at this year’s British Open). Haotong is a three-time winner on the PGA China Tour, playing in conditions not all too dissimilar to those in Malaysia this week, and if you are looking for a bit of magic from a sleeper pick this week, then note that his final round of 63 at the Open was one of the lowest in major history. This kid is a beast and must be played at odds like this because they are not going to be offered much longer on him (Risking 2 units to win 13.2).
Gavin Green 75-1
Now here’s an interesting sleeper play. A Malaysian playing on home soil, Gavin Green has long been touted as a big star to come from Asia, and he served notice of that by finishing T2 at the European Tour sanctioned Indian Open earlier in the year. The 24-year-old now tops the Asian Tour Order of Merit after a fantastic couple of months in which he finished second at the Yeangder Heritage and Shinhan Donghae Open, T10 at the Thailand Open and claimed his first professional victory just a couple of weeks ago at the Taiwan Masters. He comes into the CIMB Classic then in hot form at a course he knows and loves (two career top-10s at TPC Kuala Lumpur, plus two top-25s). That could well be a recipe for success (Risking 0.2 units to win 15).
Richy Werenski 125-1
Richy Werenski ended his first full season on the PGA Tour in fine form and went virtually unnoticed last week at Silverado. He ended the year with three top-10 finishes and made $875,492. By virtue of reaching the postseason and playing in the Northern Trust, Werenski has his tour card assured for this season and he’s ready to make some noise. Werenski made 19 of 27 cuts among those three top-10 finishes. His best finish came at the Barracuda Championship, when he lost in a playoff to Chris Stroud. It’s worth noting that the conditions at the Barracuda were very wet when Werenski made three birdies and an eagle over his final six holes during the second round. He established himself as a ball-striker throughout his rookie campaign, but it was a measured improvement while putting that was responsible for the surge. During his 6-for-6 run to conclude 2016-17, he rose from 176th with a clip of -0.455 in strokes gained: putting to 102nd at a cool 0.000. No reason to think he won't extend what he unlocked for his debut on the receptive and generous greens of TPC Kuala Lumpur (Risking 2 units to win 25 units).
Head-to-head Matchups for The CIMB Classic
HEAD-TO-HEAD MATCHUPS for the PGA CHAMPIONSHIP
Featured head-to-head matchups of the week.
One of our golden rules, typically, is to never get behind a player who won a tournament the week before – that’s for fear of them suffering the dreaded ‘champion’s hangover.’ However, we’ll make an exception here because there are so many ticks in Steele’s box this week that we simply must get involved; not least the fact that he is criminally underpriced to beat Gary Woodland. Steele’s tee-to-green game was outstanding at Silverado – nobody gained more strokes than Steele in this area – and clearly that stands him in good stead for what is likely to be an iron and wedge-based shootout. We particularly like the fact that seven out of his last eight rounds here have been in the 60s and 4/7 were 67 or lower, which is almost an identical return to Justin Thomas. Now we get him evenly priced against Woodland? Yeah, pencil us in for that (Risking 2.2 units to win 2).
This isn’t a head-to-head matchup per se but there are only four options in this proposition and we see it as a three-horse race between Graeme DeLaet, Nick Taylor and Adam Hadwin. The other entry is Richard Lee. While Taylor can be dangerous at times, neither he nor Hadwin are in the form that DeLaet is in. We also pay close attention to the oddsmakers at Pinnacle and they have DaLaet as a pick-em (-108) to beat Rafael Cabrera Bello in their head-to-head matchups and Bello is one of the top 10 favorites this week to win this event. That speaks volumes to us and prompts us to step in and play DaLaet to be the top Canadian. At even money, this is a better wager than DeLaet to beat Bello (Risking 2 units to win 2 units).
Total Units Wagered for this event is 5 and we'll update this section on Monday after the results are official.
Brandon Steele-110 over Gary Woodland
4 golfers to win outright @ 0.2 units each = -0.8 units
Top Canadian - Graeme DeLaet +100 = - 2 units
Therefore 2.8 units in losses - 2 units in wins = a total net loss of 0.8 units
Open an account today at Pinnacle Sports and take advantage of their -104 style pricing on sides and totals, which is 60% better than other sportsbooks.
CIMB Classic (Risking 5 units - To Win: 0.00)