Preview of the CIMB Classic
The CIMB Classic has attracted a strong field including the world number two, Tiger Woods (pictured), and several other US PGA Tour players such as Jason Dufner and Bo Van Pelt. The tournament is being played at the Mines Resort Club in Kuala Lumpur.
This event counts for money won in Asia but does not count towards the Money List in the States. It is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and PGA Tour and has attracted some of the leading players from that part of the world.
In 2010 the field mainly consisted of players available form the US Tour and last year it was the FedEx Cup standings that determined who was invited. The field has again increased to a limited entry of 56 players with the vast majority having qualified through money won in America.
Van Pelt is the defending champion and also arrives in Asia on the back of his first overseas win at last week’s Perth International. Van Pelt beat Dufner by one shot in that event that was co-sanctioned by the tours in Europe and Australasia.
Twelve months ago Van Pelt beat Jeff Overton by six shots. Each of his four rounds was completed in 67 or fewer shots and his 23 under total suggests a putting contest developed in this tournament. Woods did not compete last year while Dufner finished tied 10th.
Ben Crane was the champion in 2010, beating Brian Davis by one shot. The winning score was 18 under which suggests the Asian greens are now easier to read or the players have got used to the subtleties of the putting surfaces. However, it was the Tanjong Course that hosted the event two years ago.
The Mines Course in Malaysia is just under 7000 yards in length so is shorter than average by modern standards. Driving distance will not be at a premium and players will have to find the fairways and greens consistently in order to contend. The pin positions were demanding last year but accurate approach play will be rewarded with plenty of birdie and eagle opportunities.
Woods appears in Asia after a regular season of contrasting emotions. He won three regular tournaments on courses where he has done well in the past. However, he didn’t win a major after getting in contention over the first two days of each of the Grand Slam tournaments.
Woods also failed to win a match at the Ryder Cup and didn’t play in a session for the first time in his career after being rested for the Saturday afternoon fourballs. The match was already decided when Woods missed a short putt in his singles against Francesco Molinari. He then conceded to allow Europe to become outright winners rather than retaining the Cup by halving the contest.