Stat attack!: CIMB Classic preview

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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 Frys.com 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 Frys.com 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 Frys.com 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
money
rank

World
rank

Noteworthy
 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.

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