Stat attack!: CIMB Classic preview

By John AntoniniOctober 28, 2014, 2:52 pm

The CIMB Classic at Kuala Lumpur G&CC’s West course is unique among PGA Tour events. Co-sanctioned by the Asian Golf Tour, the field for this week is comprised of three distinct groups: top-echelon players looking to prepare for next week’s WGC event in China (Sergio Garcia, Billy Horschel, Jason Dufner); rank-and-file players taking the opportunity to go overseas (Brice Garnett, Luke Guthrie, Morgan Hoffmann); and the top players on the Asian Tour (Anirban Lahiri, David Lipsky).

ShotLink didn’t record measured data from this event a year ago and it was the first time the tournament was held at KLGCC West so we’re flying somewhat blind from a statistical analysis. Still a look at winner Ryan Moore (pictured) and playoff loser Gary Woodland gives us an idea of what it would take to succeed this week.

Moore finished in the top 12 in fairways hit, greens in regulation and putts per GIR a year ago. Woodland was T-21, T-4 and T-6 in the three stats. Woodland, in fact, didn’t miss a green coming down the stretch in any round last year, going 20-for-20 in GIR on holes 14 to 18.

Tournament stats for CIMB Classic leaders in 2013

 Player Fairways hit Greens in regulation Putts per GIR
 Ryan Moore 39 (T-12) 54 (T-8) Second
 Gary Woodland 38 (T-21) 56 (T-4) T-6

Back for Moore

Moore, Woodland and third-place finisher Chris Stroud have returned to Southeast Asia for another crack at the CIMB Classic. None of them have made a cut in the three Fall Series events played so far in the 2014-15 season. In fact none of the returning players who finished in the top 12 at last year’s CIMB Classic have finished as high as 30th in any event in the fall. 

Given the location of the tournament and the small field –many players are making their season debut - maybe it doesn’t’ matter. However, Moore was coming off a T-9 finish in Las Vegas before heading overseas a year ago. If player well in previous events matters, look no further than Hideki Matsuyama, who had top-10s at the and in Las Vegas before heading back to Asia.

How the CIMB Classic’s top returning players have fared in this fall

 Player 2013 CIMB Shriners McGladrey
 Ryan Moore Won DNP MC DNP
 Gary Woodland 2 DNP DNP DNP
 Chris Stroud T-3 MC DNP DNP
 Graham DeLaet T-7 T-39 DNP DNP
 Billy Horschel T-11 DNP MC DNP
 Sergio Garcia T-11 DNP DNP DNP
 Stewart Cink T-11 DNP T-33 T-32

Players with top finishes in the 2014-15 season who are in the CIMB field

 Player 2015 FedEx rank Shriners McGladrey 
 Sang-Moon Bae 3 Won MC DNP
 Brendon de Jonge 4 T-31 T-42 T-2
 Kevin Streelman 5 MC 2 DNP
 Steven Bowditch 6 2 MC DNP
 Will Mackenzie 7 DNP DMP T-2
 Hideki Matsuyama 11 T-3 T-10 DNP

De Jonge’s delight

Eleven players have made the cut in the first three events of the season on the PGA Tour, but of that group, only Brendon de Jonge is playing this week. The co-runner-up at last week’s McGladrey Classic, de Jonge is one of the PGA Tour’s most ubiquitous performers, having played 30 or more events in each of the last five seasons. He’s on his way to reaching that total again in 2014-15.

Brendon de Jonge: 2010-2014

 Year Starts Top-10 finishes Best FedEx rank
 2014 31 2 T-6 Wells Fargo 91
 2013 30 4 T-6 WM Phoenix 26
 2012 31 4 2, Las Vegas 57
 2011 20 3 T-4 Greenbrier 60
 2010 32 7 3, three times 51

De Jonge was tied for third in tournaments played in 2013-14, one back of leaders Brian Harman and Morgan Hoffmann, who made 32 starts each. But de Jonge is truly the PGA Tour’s ironman. Not only has he played 30 or more events for five straight years, he’s the only player to have done it two straight years. (And, by the way, de Jonge has played well at the CIMB Classic, with a T-4 in 2012 when the tournament was held at The Mines.

Malayan double dip

Lee Westwood is looking to do something unique at the CIMB Classic. The Englishman won the Maybank Malaysian Open at Kuala Lumpur G&CC on the European Tour in April and is looking to hoist the trophy at two different tournaments on two different tours on the same course in the same calendar year.

Westwood blistered the Maybank field, winning by seven strokes at 18-under 270. He hit 55 greens and 36 fairways (similar to Moore’s numbers of 54 and 39). Several Asian Tour players also had top finishes in the April tournament and are returning to Kuala Lumpur this week.

Top finishers in the Maybank Malaysian Open in the CIMB Classic field

 Player Finish Scores
 Lee Westwood Won 65-66-71-68—270
 Rikard Karlberg T-5 72-69-67-70—278
 Anirban Lahiri  T-10 72-72-66-70—280
 Jason Knutzon T-13 75-67-69-70—281

Asian stars

Speaking of Asian Tour players, here’s a look at the 10 players from that Tour’s money list who qualified for the CIMB Classic. As a whole, the group has played very little in the United States, but they should not be discounted this week. One of them might match Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who finished T-3 in last year’s CIMB Classic.

Top Asian Tour players in the CIMB Classic field

 Player Asian


 David Lipsky 1 139 Beat Graham Storm in a playoff at the Omega European Masters
 Anirban Lahiri 2 69 Winner of the Indonesian Masters and last week’s Macau Open
 Prom Meesawat 4 166 T-2 at the Macau Open a week ago, he won earlier in 2014 for
the first time in eight years
 Antonio Lascuna 5 144 Former Philippine Amateur champ was third, second,
second in consecutive starts this fall
 Angelo Que 6 251 Lost a playoff to Scott Hend at the Hong Kong Open
 Jason Knutzon 7 481 An Iowa-bred friend of Zach Johnson has played
in Asia since 2003
 Rikard Karlberg 8 233 The Swede was 125th on the Euro money list and didn’t
qualify for their finals series
 Steve Lewton 9 301 Englishman won the Mercuries Taiwan Masters
earlier in October
 Seuk Hyun Baek 10 280 South Korean who lives in Thailand. He was T-77 a year ago
 Cameron Smith 13 289 A top amateur in Australia before turning pro in 2013

One final thought: Sergio Garcia was T-11 in 2013, but his success in Southeast Asia might make him someone to consider this week. He won the Iskandor Johor Open in Malaysia in 2012, the HSBC Champions in China in 2008 and the Thailand Golf Championship last December.

If you haven't already done so, please follow me on Twitter at @johnantoninigc

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.