Expert Picks: CIMB Classic


This week the fantasy golf world focuses on the CIMB Classic from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where Bo Van Pelt returns as defending champion. Each week, a panel of experts will offer up their picks from four groups of players based on Golf Channel's new fantasy game, Fantasy Challenge. We will also keep track of their scores and standings. The panel consists of: senior writers Rex Hoggard, Randall Mell and Jason Sobel; contributors John Hawkins and Win McMurry; editorial director Jay Coffin;'s Rob Bolton; 'Morning Drive' host Gary Williams and staff writer Ryan Lavner.

Win McMurry

Group 1: Bo Van Pelt: Not only is he the defending champion, he won last week in Australia and had a good close to the FedEx Cup season, earning more than $500,000 across the final four events.

Group 2: John Senden: He's had a sneaky good season, with five top-10 finishes, 11 top 25s, and navigating his way through all four playoff events. He tied for seventh here a year ago.

Group 3: Jimmy Walker: Enters the tournament off a T-4 at the Open before flying overseas. He tied for 13th here last year and boasts six top-10 finishes this season. I think he's due for a breakthrough on the world stage soon.

Group 4: Tom Gillis: He's had a pretty strong season, producing five top 25s, two of which came during the playoffs, so I'm banking on this Group 4 pick to ride his momentum to another top finish in Malaysia.

Randall Mell

Group 1: Jason Dufner: Got to like his form coming off that runner-up finish at Perth International, which ought to leave him a little bit hungrier than last week's winner there, Bo Van Pelt.

Group 2: John Senden: Senden seemed comfortable last year playing the CIMB, where he tied for seventh. Comfort in foreign surroundings is always a big deal.

Group 3: Seung-yul Noh: Speaking of comfort, Noh's not that far from home this week. He has been so solid and consistent all year, with 17 consecutive cuts made on the PGA Tour. A breakthrough might be imminent.

Group 4: Trevor Immelman: Immelman came on solidly at the end of last year with his two best PGA Tour finishes of '11. Looking for more of the same this year.

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Jason Dufner: He was solid last week in Australia, where he finished second to Bo Van Pelt, and he tied for 10th last year in Kuala Lumpur. Besides, unlike many players in the field, jet lag will not be an issue.

Group 2: Brendon de Jonge: We dubbed the big Zimbabwean the 'Best Tour player without a title' last week following his runner-up showing in Las Vegas, and he answered with a tie for fourth at Sea Island. At this rate, he's due to shed that title soon.

Group 3: Chris Kirk: Seems a University of Georgia product wins something every week (see Henley, Russell) and the former Bulldog played well in Asia last year, finishing T-13.

Group 4: Bob Estes: Although this is his first trip to the CIMB, the veteran has been as consistent as anyone the last few weeks, having not missed a cut since August. Wrapping up his status inside the top 125 in earnings should help free him up.

Rob Bolton

Group 1: Tiger Woods: As I've written before, I'm not going to get beat with him on the sidelines. This decision is further supported by the fact that the CIMB Classic features only 48 players and no cut.

Group 2: Scott Piercy: Gotta love aggressive sorts that make tons of birdies in small fields with a guaranteed payday, not to mention that he's enjoyed a career year. First start since a T-6 at the JT Shriners.

Group 3: Seung-yul Noh: Coming off a two-week stint in South Korea where he posted top 10s in both starts. One of the most consistent golfers in the game right now.

Group 4: Tom Gillis: Unless he wins a PGA Tour event, I might forever remember him as the guy that led the circuit in birdie average at 4.06 in 2010 when he'd also finished T-11 at this event. He's 25th in birdie average this year and played strong throughout the FedEx Cup playoffs.