The Asian leg of the Fall Swing kicks off this week as The Tour makes its way over to Malaysia for the CIMB Classic. The course is TPC Kuala Lumpur, formerly Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club, which is a Par 72 course that’s right around 7,000 yards. The course underwent some renovations since the last time around, but the length and par have remained unchanged.
The renovations saw the greens change from paspalum to TifEagle Bermudagrass and the fairways and tees are now Celebration Bermuda. That should mean faster greens than we’ve seen here in the past. For what it’s worth, the tee/green grass combination is the same as it is at TPC Sawgrass.
Attacking the Course
Over the past three events here, the winning score has been between 23-under and 26-under. If you don’t hit greens at TPC Kuala Lumpur you aren’t going to compete at the CIMB Classic. Given those scoring conditions, it is important to get out to a fast start. Only one golfer, Justin Thomas in 2016, managed to come from outside of the top five after the first round and win the tournament. In fact, only 30 percent of golfers that finish in the Top 10 here have been outside of the Top 20 after round one.
Over the past five years, there have been 28 golfers that scored at least 100 DK points. To join that group, golfers have had to average 14.5 greens in regulation hit per round.
Unfortunately, there is no driving distance data in the PGA Tour database for this week. Likely because ShotTracker doesn’t take the trip overseas very often. If we’re looking at accuracy, though, it’s important to find these fairways to have a shot at birdies. Golfers who’ve finished in the Top 20 of DK scoring have averaged 67.8% fairways hit.
Expensive Golfers ($9,500+)
Justin Thomas ($11,700) is a two-time winner at this event, and for that reason will likely be popular. We also just saw him as one of the lone bright spots on a disastrous U.S. Ryder Cup team. The highest priced golfer has typically been had at an ownership discount, but it’s awfully hard to avoid JT. Over the past 36 rounds, he’s first in DK points and first in SG: Approach. In three starts at TPC Kuala Lumpur, he’s averaged over 120 points per event. The worst finish he’s had was his 17th place finish last season
Gary Woodland ($9,700) has made five starts at the CIMB Classic and has three Top-25 DK point performances in those events. He’s averaged 56 greens in regulation through those starts. Over the past 36 rounds, Woodland has scored the fourth most DK points. In that same timeframe, he’s first in SG: Off the Tee and 10th in SG: Approach for a combined second in SG: Ball-Striking.
Honorable Mention: Xander Schauffele ($10,400), Marc Leishman ($9,800)
Mid-Range Golfers ($9,500 – $7,500)
Kevin Tway ($8,200) is coming off of his first PGA Tour victory. That may mean that he has a bit of a hangover, but he played some of the best golf of his life last week in California. Tway was solid all-around, gaining at least two strokes in each Strokes Gained category on his way to victory. Kuala Lumpur is arguably an even better fit for him, too. Tway is 20th in the field in SG: Par 5 over the past 36 rounds.
Cameron Smith ($8,400) looks like he could be popular this week as well. He finished the year strong, making it all the way to East Lake thanks to a couple of third place finishes at the Dell Championship and the Northern Trust. Those weeks saw him average 3.8 strokes on approach and at least 4 strokes on the greens. The putter went south over the last two weeks of the season, though, as he disappointed his owners at the BMW Championship with a 65th place finish in a field of less than 70. The course history crowd will like him as well since he’s averaged 90+ DK points in three starts here.
Honorable Mention: Sam Ryder ($7,700), Peter Uihlein ($7,700), Bronson Burgoon ($7,500), Pat Perez ($8,300)
Value Golfers (Sub-$7,500)
Stewart Cink ($7,200) is a cut-maker, plain and simple. Over the past two seasons, he’s made 35-of-48 cuts (72%). He might not possess the elite upside that some of the younger guys on tour have, but he’s a solid anchor to your lineup most weeks. Many PGA DFS players fall into the trap of chasing upside at every spot. While that can be important, there’s something to be said for the guys who can find themselves in the top half of the field each week. There’s no cut at the CIMB but that just ensures a steady base of production from Cink who’s 8th in DK points over his past 36 rounds.
Speaking of ceiling plays, Anirban Lahiri ($6,900) is underpriced for his upside. He’s averaged upwards of 85 DK points at TPC Kuala Lumpur across his five starts there. As you can see below, across his career he’s been a prototypical GPP play with a DK point spread that spans the spectrum. When he finds a hot putter, he can keep up scoring with anyone. Lahiri has gained 2+ strokes putting in 15 starts on the PGA Tour. In those starts he’s averaging 72.2 DK points.
Honorable Mention: Jamie Lovemark ($6,800), Brian Gay ($6,900), Keith Mitchell ($6,900)