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The CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia might only be a 'featured event' this year but there's absolutely no doubt that this tournament is going to be a mainstay of the PGA Tour moving into the future - and this year it's benefitting with the presence of one Tiger Woods Esq in the field. Next year will see both the CIMB Classic and the WGC HSBC Champions be full PGA Tour tournaments and as part of the new season structure both will effectively be part of the 13/14 PGA Tour season. Confused? Well there is no reason to worry about such details right now, but after tipping Ben Crane (40/1) and Bo Van Pelt (25/1) in the previous 2 runnings it would appear I've got a good understanding of what's required to win at The Mines Resort Golf Club!
OK, so what are the important details to get our heads around before making my CIMB Classic selections this week? A $6,100,000 prize fund with $1,000,000 going to the winner is an attractive proposition to many a PGA Tour player, so the field again this year is of a decent standard. On top of that the fact that the HSBC World Championship event takes place next week at Mission Hills also makes Mines Resort a decent stop off point for many and gives non-winners from this season the chance of getting in the field next week. The field of 48 players includes 30 from the PGA Tour (players were invited based upon FedEx Cup standings), 10 Asia Tour (Order of Merit) and 8 sponsor exemptions. The short field also means that there is no cut and unfortunately means that Each Way places are only available on the Top 4. Naturally this 3rd tournament edition isn't part of the full PGA Tour so no official exemptions or Money List dollars are open to the winner but over 30 World Ranking points are up for grabs - dependant on final field strength. In reality this week's tournament will be approximately as strong as any Fall Series event of the past 3 weeks, if not a little stronger than Sea Island and CordeValle because of Tiger's appearance.
The Mines Resort Golf Club is a Trent Jones Junior setup which totally rewards attacking golf. Eagles and birdies abound as the Bermuda greens are extremely receptive at 11 on the stimp. Total driving is rewarded off the tee as water features on 6 of 18 holes, but in the main missing fairways on many holes isn't of paramount importance. The short 6,966 yard Par 71 features a drivable Par 4 and 2 very reachable Par 5s. So we are looking for attacking players who can make bundles of birdies in whatever fashion they want to! Approach irons are key and naturally players that are able to convert from less than 20 feet with the putter will be the ones in contention on Sunday. Wind won't be a feature and Crane and Van Pelt won with -18/266 and -23/261 so the winner will have to have the ability to deliver a serious 'resort course' total.
Finally, heat and humidity is at unparallel levels here so I’m favouring players who have performed in the southern states and naturally who have a track record on Bermuda greens and, most importantly, who have a reason to perform this week. That could be to finish off a great season with a win, to qualify for the HSBC next week, to grab a World Golf Ranking Top 50 spot or to erase the demons of a torrid Ryder Cup! That's right I can't avoid Tiger this week, after all as I always state I'm trying to pick winners! Also worth reading about the potential 25/1 double available with Rory McIlroy that Paul's featured in his BMW Masters selections - click here for details.
Unsure about Tiger this week? In my mind he is absolutely perfect for Skybet's £10 free no deposit required offer where you can cover him off for free. If he wins (and I think he will) then happy days - if not then what have you lost?! For full details click here.
I know I'll get plenty of feedback - you are welcome to tweet @bamfordgolf - about tipping Tiger at such a short price, but what can you do? I think his stroke play golf of late has been top class and I'm 100% confident he'll be determined to play well this week to exorcise those Ryder Cup demons and show the golfing world that Rory McIlroy, who is clearly the World Number 1 right now, won't be able to relax moving into 2013 which features pro-Tiger tracks in Abu Dhabi and Torrey Pines early doors. Fact is I wouldn't have been comfortable tipping Woods prior to TPC Boston in August. Back then I didn't think resort style courses were within his scoring compass, but performances at the Deutsche and at the BMW (Crooked Stick) severely caught my attention. Tiger birdied 22 holes in Massachusetts (31%) and followed that up with 24 birdies (33%) in Indiana and his Crooked Stick performance was with a relatively lukewarm putter. Fact of the matter is that the short 6,966 yard nature of the test this week will actually play into Tiger's hands as he will only need to take driver circa 5 times across each round and will be in position far more than he was at Crooked Stick. Let's not forget his supposed weakness from the tee can't be too bad when he ranks 5th on Tour for Total Driving. His iron approach play from 175-200 yards right now rates 2nd best, and he's ranked 36th in Stokes Gained Putting, 4th in Birdie Average, 9th in Par Breakers and 11th in All-Around. With Bo Van Pelt and Jason Dufner his nearest challengers at single figures this week, I'm siding with Tiger and I'm still a believer that with this grade of field the 'intimidation factor' is still very much is his favour. RESULT: T4
We all know that Bobby isn't the best putter on the planet. That point is backed up by the fact that each of Robert's three 2nd places this season at PGA West (Resort - Bermuda Poa Triv), Copperhead (P70 type - Bermuda Poa Triv) and Hamilton (Resort - Par 70) all came with negative Strokes Gained Putting relative to the rest of the field. He also ranks 14th in Greens in Regulation, 11th in Birdie Average and 7th in Par Breakers across 2012. Think that through and you'll realise just how much Arizona-based Garrigus has come on in 2012. Indeed this year heralded his first Augusta appearance (based upon his 3rd at the 2011 US Open), 21st at Kiawah Island, his first contention in a FedEx Cup play off tournament (4th at Crooked Stick) and his first appearance at East Lake where he finished a superb 10th. As a result he's now safely into the Masters, US Open and Open Championship fields for next year and he's jumped 62 spots in the World Rankings and now sits inside the World's Top 50. The next target quite simply has to be grabbing that W his great season deserves and we all know how Garrigus thrives on Bermuda greens and at resort style courses. Kapalua: -24 (2nd 2011), PGA West: -22 (2nd 2012), Hamilton: -16 (2nd 2012), Crooked Stick: -17 (4th 2012), TPC Summerlin -16 (3rd 2007), Disney: -21 (1st 2010). His irons are dialled in right now and his putting has seen positive SGP in 3 of his last 4 outings. RESULT: T2
East Lake 2011 Champion Bill Haas offers some value at 33s this week and let's face it Haas has been one of the best exponents on Bermuda greens over the past 3 seasons. Here is a player who won his first PGA Tour title on the Bermuda Poa Trivialis greens at PGA West in 2010 where he shot -30 across 90 holes. Indeed 2010 was the breakout season for Haas Jnr whose previous Top 5 finishes had been at the Bermuda Par 70 at La Cantrera (3rd -14) in 2009 and on the Champion Bermuda greens of Annandale (3rd -11 & 4th -16) in 07/08 as in 2010 he finished 6th at the WGC tournament at Doral and then won his 2nd PGA Tour title at you've guessed it Annandale where he shot -15. 2011 delivered 8th at Kapalua (Bermuda -16), 2nd at PGA West (-27), 8th at Colonial (Par 70) and 2nd at Old White (Par 70) before a similar vein of form to which he finds himself in now delivered that never to be forgotten win at the Ross designed East Lake (Bermuda Par 70) and a $11.4 million prize. Rested after a half decent run from Sedgefield onwards of 7(Sedgefield)-MC(Bethpage)-35(TPC Boston)-45(Crooked Stick), the South Carolina World Number 37 could do with a decent haul of WGR points and he's in the WGC field at Mission Hills next week, but he'll know the Bermuda greens at Mines Resort will suit. Haas knows the course after finishing 26th here in 2010 after shooting 72-69-69-67. His love of Bermuda carpet is undoubted and I think he can come from pretty average form to challenge this week as Furyk and Toms did last week. RESULT: T16
I'll finish my Malaysian squad with the enigmatic Kevin Na who, yet again, is on the verge of grabbing a Top 50 OWGR spot if he can finish the year well. The Las Vegas man - like Garrigus - is winless in 2012, but it's well worth remembering that his 2011 victory game at the resort Par 71 at TPC Summerlin where his immense putting delivered a -23/261 total where he held off the charging Nick Watney to claim his maiden PGA Tour victory. So what of Na this season? 5th at TPC Scottsdale (Bermuda/Poa Triv), 5th at Pebble Beach and 4th at Bay Hill (Bermuda/Poa Triv) took him into his 3rd appearance at Augusta in confident mood and he didn't disappoint with a 12th place finish booking him a return visit in 2013. That's the point with Na who slowly but surely is getting his head around playing top level golf - Augusta followed on the heels of 10th at the PGA Championship held at Atlanta Athletic (Par 70 Bermuda) in August last year. He led the Players Championship for 54 holes back in May at TPC Sawgrass (Bermuda Mini Verde) and then finished a credible 29th at the US Open in June. So Na would like a spot at next week's HSBC and will know that the resort nature of the Mines will suit his fantastic short game. 21st (finished 67-67 across the weekend) here back in 2010 when he wasn't quite so motivated and interestingly finished 2nd two weeks ago at the Shinhan Donghae Open in South Korea beating the rejuvenated Casey, Wi, Huh, Noh and KT Kim into the bargain. As short as 33s elsewhere. RESULT: T10
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