Niall Lyons picks out his best bets from this week's CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur.
The CIMB returns to Kuala Lumpur this week as the 2016-2017 season begins to gather momentum ahead of the first WGC of the year next week in China. A stellar field arrives in Malaysia this week and with a course that rains down birdies we will have a competitive tournament right until the end on Sunday. The course is a short par 72 which ranks as one of the easiest they will play all season. A score towards 20 under or beyond will be needed to take the title. Both accurate and longer hitters have prospered here down the last four years but what is evident is that you need a solid approach game to make the required birdies. From 150 yards in if you are efficient enough you will make plenty of birdies. Being accurate off the tee and a solid wedge game is the formula I'd prefer here over anything else.
Paul Casey lines up as favourite with most firms despite not having won on the PGA tour since 2009. He is in an incredible run of form but looks to come up short at the business end almost every week. He finds it very hard to win and despite having a fair chance this week I can't back someone who finds it so hard to win despite playing some of the best golf of his career to date. Reed and Matusyama arrive here in fair form also but I see more value further down the field.
We'll start with KEVIN NA who must be bet at a top price of 22/1. Na notched a top ten last week and continues this fine run of form at this time of the year. He finished 2nd in the Shriners last year before finishing 3rd here in Kuala Lumpur the following week. The year before that he finished 2nd here. Na has the perfect game for this course and it is hard not to see him off the first page of the leaderboard come Sunday evening. He never finds it easy but looked on course for a win here last year before Thomas just broke away in the final few holes. All aspects of his game are in fine nick and he rates a solid each-way bet.
There are numerous outsiders I like the look of this week as potential each-way value but I've shortened my list to include just two more. SI WOO KIM is a talented sort who is flying somewhat under the radar this week despite some very decent form. The second part of his year has been super impressive and travelling to this part of the world will be advantageous. He finished 2nd in the Barbasol in July with a total of 18 under. He followed that up the following month with a win at the Wyndham and a total of 21 under. Clearly he isn't scared to go low and that will be required this week. He had a fine run in the playoffs with two top 20s followed by a top ten in the Tour Championship. He most recently finished 2nd in the Kj Choi Invitational. He has a lot of talent this kid of 21 years of age and I wouldn't be surprised to see him add another win to his tally soon enough.
TONY FINAU is worth a speculative bet at odds of 55/1. He finished in the top ten here on debut last year and has been consistent enough lately to make him a betting proposition this week. The course should really suit Finau with his attacking style of golf. He is considered one of the best young players in the game and talked very highly of by many. He has a lot of improvement in him and a tournament like this is right up his alley. It is worth nothing that his first win which he notched in March was in Puerto Rico so clearly travelling doesn't effect him negatively. I'll be looking to land one or two of Finau's wins in the next few years as I believe he has a proper game. Hopefully we land his 2nd this week.