Stat attack!: CIMB Classic review

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All it took for Ryan Moore to come up with a new nickname was another timely victory on the PGA Tour. With a successful defense of this 2013 title at the CIMB Classic, Moore won for the third time in his career during the Fall Series, which is enough to make the Tacoma News Tribune in Moore’s home state of Washington to refer to him as Mr. October.

We won’t quibble with the fact that this year’s CIMB Classic ended in November, while we point out that Moore’s CIMB Classic win at Kuala Lumpur G&CC’s West course makes him the first player to successfully defend a PGA Tour title since Tiger Woods at the 2013 Arnold Palmer Invitational. Moore beat Sergio Garcia, Kevin Na and Gary Woodland (last year’s runner-up) by three strokes. Moore and Woodland are the first players to finish first and second in the same event in consecutive years since Phil Mickelson beat Jose Maria Olazabal in the BellSouth Classic in 2005 and 2006.

Players with multiple PGA Tour victories during the Fall Series

 Player Total wins Tournaments
 Ryan Moore 3 2014 CIMB Classic, 2013 CIMB Classic, 2012 Shriners Las Vegas 
 Dustin Johnson 2 2013 WGC-HSBC Champions, 2008 Turning Stone Champ.
 Stephen Ames 2 2009 Disney, 2007 Disney

Players with consecutive wins in the same PGA Tour event: 2010-2014

 Player Tournaments
 Ryan Moore 2013 and 2014 CIMB Classic
 Tiger Woods   2012 and 2013 Arnold Palmer Invitational
 Steve Stricker 2011 and 2010 John Deere Classic
 Geoff Ogilvy 2009 and 2010 Tournament of Champions 
 Dustin Johnson 2009 and 2010 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
 Steve Stricker 2009 and 2010 John Deere Classic

Similarity scores

Moore’s total of 17-under 271 last week was three strokes better than his 274 total in 2013 but he played remarkably similar on Kuala Lumpur’s West course both years. He was T-8 in the field GIR in 2013 and 2014 and he took 112 putts in each tournament. (Moore was also T-5 in 2010, when the CIMB Classic was an unofficial event held at The Mines.)

Moore was in the top 10 in the field in greens hit, total putts, putts per GIR and birdie-conversion percentage Sunday. He made 25 birdies for the week, including eight in a final-round 67 that saw him outpace 54-hole co-leader Kevin Na, who shot 70.

Ryan Moore in the CIMB Classic: 2013-2014

 Year Scores Fairways hit (Rank) GIR (rank) Putts (rank)
 2014 68-69-67-67—271 41 (T-15) 56 (T-8) 112 (6)
 2013 63-72-67-70—274 39 (T-12) 54 (T-8) 112 (T-9)

CIMB Classic leaders in putts per GIR

 Rank Player Putts per GIR Birdie conv. percentage Finish
 1 Charl Schwartzel 1.609 43.48 (1) T-19
 2  Luke Guthrie 1.640 33.64 (19) T-39
 3 Cameron Smith 1.042 37.74 (3) T-5
 4  Ryan Moore 1.643 37.35 (4) Won
 5 Jason Dufner 1.647 35.29 (11) T-26

Smith leads Asian contingent

Did you notice the name Cameron Smith just above Moore's name in the above list. You better get familiar with the 21-year-old Australian who finished T-5 in his PGA Tour debut. The youngster has been touted as the world’s next great Aussie golfer, and had six straight top-10 finishes world-wide from the end of August until early October. His strong finish in the CIMB gives him the opportunity to play another PGA Tour event, as the top-10 qualifies him for this week’s Sanderson Farms Classic in Mississippi.

Smith is the first player to finish in the top 10 in his PGA Tour debut since Chris Wood was T-5 at the 2008 British Open as an amateur. They are among the four players to accomplish this feat since 2000. Keep in mind, there are several players who were top-10 performers in their first PGA Tour start as a pro – Rory McIlroy, Russell Henley and Max Homa to name three - but they all played previously on Tour as amateurs.

Smith was one of three Asian Tour players with top-10s at the CIMB, with Thailand’s Prom Meesawat (nicknamed the Big Dolphin), and Angelo Que of The Philippines proving, once again, that Asian Tour players can be successful when competing against the world’s best.

Players with a top-10 finish in their first PGA Tour start: 2000-2014

 Player Finish Tournament
 Anthony Kim T-2 2006 Valero Texas Open
 Cameron Smith T-5 2014 CIMB Classic
 Chris Wood T-5 2008 British Open (as an amateur)
 Andres Romero T-8 2006 British Open

Asian Tour players with top-10 finishes at the CIMB Classic: 2010-2014

 Player Year Finish
 Cameron Smith 2014 T-5
 Prom Meesawat 2014 T-8
 Angelo Que 2014 T-8
 Kiradech Aphibarnrat 2013 T-3
 Jbe’ Kruger 2012 T-8
 Gangajeet Bhullar 2012 T-10
 Jeev Milkha Singh 2011 T-10
 Mardan Mamat 2010 T-5

Garcia’s year of almosts

Runner-up Sergio Garcia was one stroke off the lead entering Sunday’s final round, but couldn’t keep up with Moore Sunday, shooting a final-round 69 to finish three back. The Spaniard, who has won several times in Asia – he counts victories in Qatar, Thailand, China, Korea and Malaysia among his triumphs in the continent – hasn’t been so successful winning anywhere in the world in recent months. His last worldwide victory came in Qatar in January, and more recently he’s had six top-three finishes without winning since April.

Sergio Garcia’s near misses in 2014

 Tournament Finish Result
 CIMB Classic T-2 Two back of Ryan Moore
 WGC-Bridgestone Inv. 2 2 back of Rory McIlroy
 British Open T-2 2 back of Rory McIlroy
 Travelers Champ. T-2 1 back of Kevin Streelman
 Players 3 2 back of Martin Kaymer
 Shell Houston Open 3 2 back of Matt Jones