9th October in Golfnews by
Justin Thomas is looking for a three-peat this week at the CIMB Classic, where the 2016-17 PGA Tour Player of the Year is also the top fantasy-golf option in the 78-player field.
The CIMB Classic first moved to Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club, now called TPC Kuala Lumpur, in 2013, when the event first became a co-sanctioned tournament between the PGA Tour and Asian Tour.
In four previous editions of the CIMB Classic, there has been two repeat winners. Ryan Moore won in 2013 and ’14, and Thomas won in 2015 and ’16.
The par-72 layout yields plenty of birdies and eagles, so in order to contend here players must go low.
Here is a look at the top 25 fantasy-golf options for this week:
1. Justin Thomas: The World No. 4 has won in both trips to TPC Kuala Lumpur. He took last week off after a Player of the Year award-winning season that included five wins (including the PGA Championship), a FedEx Cup title and a 3-1-1 performance at the Presidents Cup. Ranked second on Tour last season in birdie average.
2. Paul Casey: Nothing better than T-21 in three CIMB appearances, but did close last season with five top-5s in final eight starts. Finished last season ranked 19th in birdie average.
3. Hideki Matsuyama: Has gotten better in each of his four starts at CIMB – T-25 in 2013, T-21 in ’14, fifth in ’15 and runner-up last year. T-23 or worse in last four worldwide starts, though, as he struggles to replace his driver that broke at the BMW. Looked uninspiring for much of Presidents Cup before looking better in a singles victory over Thomas. Third on Tour last year in birdie average.
4. Gary Woodland: Runner-up at CIMB in 2013 and ’14 before notching T-56 finishes in each of the past two years. The death of one of his unborn twins in March affected his performance last season, but Woodland rallied to make the Tour Championship, where he finished 19th.
5. Brendan Steele: T-26 here last year after winning the 2016 Safeway Open. Successfully defended his Safeway title last week. T-25 and T-3 in other two trips to TPC Kuala Lumpur.
6. Kevin Na: Boasts a pair of top-3 finishes at CIMB. Coming off T-37 finish at Safeway after closing last season with two top-6s in last four starts.
7. Scott Piercy: Returned from injury and long layoff to finish T-17 at Safeway. Hit top 10 in previous two starts in Malaysia. T-9 in birdie average last season.
8. Graham DeLaet: In only CIMB start he was T-7 in 2013. Started new season with T-5 showing at Safeway.
9. Xander Schauffele: Rookie of the year coming off win at East Lake. T-20 in birdie average last season.
10. Anirban Lahiri: Gained confidence at Presidents Cup with nice weekend performances. T-3 last year in fourth trip to TPC Kuala Lumpur. T-14 in birdie average last year.
11. Grayson Murray: Ranked 18th on Tour in birdie average last season and coming off T-9 finish in Napa.
12. Ollie Schniederjans: T-17 in Napa and was T-37 last season in birdie average. Making CIMB debut.
13. Chez Reavie: T-60 in CIMB debut last year, but trending with three top-13 finishes in last four starts, including T-13 last week in Napa.
14. Stewart Cink: T-17 or better in two of three CIMB starts. Barely missed out on making it to East Lake last season. T-20 in birdie average last season.
15. Si Woo Kim: T-10 in CIMB debut last season and showed late spark at Presidents Cup. Always a risk to WD, though.
16. Luke List: Started year with T-37 finish at Safeway. No prior history in Malaysia. But was T-11 in birdie average last season.
17. Rafa Cabrera-Bello: Ranked 19th in the world and T-10 in CIMB debut last year.
18. Pat Perez: Nothing better than T-33 in three CIMB starts, but Perez had a nice playoff run last season that culminated in a 16th-place finish at East Lake.
19. Ian Poulter: Coming off T-11 finish at British Masters and was T-17 two years ago in Malaysia.
20. Keegan Bradley: Missed first cut in 11 starts at Safeway, but has two top-10s in three starts at CIMB.
21. Bud Cauley: Built on solid 2016-17 season with T-7 at Safeway. Making first trip to TPC Kuala Lumpur.
22. Tyrone Van Aswegen: T-7 at CIMB last year and T-9 at Safeway last week. Good combo.
23. Emiliano Grillo: Struggled mightily at end of last season and went winless at the Presidents Cup, but showed flashes at Safeway. Finished T-28 in Napa after a closing 77. T-17 in Malaysia last year.
24. Branden Grace: Nothing better than T-25 since T-6 at British Open, but was T-17 here in 2015 and looked solid at the Presidents Cup.
25. Adam Hadwin: Finished 23rd in East Lake debut. Was T-21 in CIMB debut last year.
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