Winner’s Share: $1,260,000
Course: Kuala Lumpur Golf & CC (6,985 yards par 72)
Robert Streb continued the early season trend of high odds winners, 75/1 being the starting price of the American. That follows Sang Moon Bae (150/1) and Ben Martin (200/1). It’s quite a contrast from the start of 2013 where Simpson, Moore and Walker all won at rather short odds comparatively.
It’s a quite exciting week for the PGA Tour as it makes its yearly trip over to Asia, to boost revenue and give fans further afield a taste of the action. We say exciting because it’s a breath of fresh air in comparison to the 20 times we see the European Tour over there. Even more fascinating is the fact this course also hosts a regular European event, the Maybank Malaysian Open. Westwood, Aphibarnrat and Oosthuizen being the most recent winners of that.
It’s an event that usually sees rain and there’s plenty of it predicted for all 4 days this week. It means precision accuracy into the greens is needed – as well as patience for the inevitable rain delays. Remember, Ryan Moore had to get it done on the Monday last year.
At 6,900 yards, it means every type of player has a chance. Ryan Moore and Gary Woodland battled it out with 2 contrasting styles in 2013. Moore left himself with full wedge shots into the greens while Woodland tried to overpower the course with heavy reliance on his chipping and recovery. 3 of the par 5’s will require no more than a 4 iron for the 2nd shot while there are a few reachable par 4’s out there. Plenty of birdies will be on offer as a result. Your guys needs to be finding tons of greens, sticking it close and taking advantage of the easier holes. You need to factor in a pretty long haul flight over to Kuala Lumpur while interestingly not many people over the age of 30 have done well here – largely due to the humidity. Food for thought.
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Paul Casey (33/1 Coral)
We said not many people over the age of 30 have done well here so that’s why our number 1 pick is 37 year old Paul Casey… But we’re happy to say the amount of hours the Englishman puts in the gym and his 2 wins in both Abu Dhabi and China can safely dispel that theory.
Casey, as you will know, is finding the sort of form we saw a few years back where a major title was a real possibility. After winning the Irish Open last year, things have been steady and he won the KLM Open last month to confirm his resurrection. But despite promising play in Europe, Casey knows the real recognition will come from a win on the PGA Tour. Proven by the turning of his back to the opening event of the Final Series this week.
Paul is a player well equipped for adverse conditions and when the greens get soft, he comes to the fore. His driving is good enough and long enough to over power this course while his short game is getting better week on week. The last time we saw him was at the European Tour’s match play event, where despite not progressing far, played some quality golf. Notably shooting 10 under par when going on to defeat Jonas Blixt. He has all the tools to get the job done this week.
Ryo Ishikawa (66/1 Coral)
Having backed the man from Japan a couple of weeks ago, he has still remained firmly in our plans. At 23, he has already done so much in the game but needs to prove himself once more with so much young talent coming through – dare we mention Matsuyama and Spieth. But with the travel to Malaysia being something Ryo will be more than used to, this is an event he will feel comfortable in more so than many of the other PGA regulars.
Despite not lighting the touch paper so far this year, he hasn’t missed a cut and finished inside the top 20 twice already. And he’s doing well in plenty of relevant stats columns for this week – 28th proximity to hole, 38th approaches 100-125 yards, 9th 125-150, 30th par 5 birdies, 30th GIR. And as we have mentioned before, Ryo has a round of 58 in his locker. He can go low and has a point to prove. Good value in this small field.
Stewart Cink (80/1 Ladbrokes)
‘The Kitchen’, we like to call him, ticked too many boxes for the ‘under 30’ theory to put us off. 11th last year paired with a couple of promising showings in his first two starts this year makes us happy. Cink ranked 8th GIR at the CIMB last year and has been 1st and 3rd respectively so far this year. He is finding greens for fun, just needs to get the putter going.
15th hole proximity, 21st 125-150 yards, 14th par 5 birdies and 2nd GIR are all promising signs for the new season. The American also ranked 18th in hole proximity for the whole of last season too. Although we managed to back him at 100/1, 80/1 is still very appealing in our opinion.
David Lingmerth (80/1 Various)
A couple of Swedes to finish off for you this week. This guy has arguably got some of the best form of anyone in the field. 14th and 17th so far this year while he had a couple of top 10’s in last season’s Web.com final events. That alone is enough needed to turn our heads. But he’s very capable on the par 5’s, is putting consistently this year and is someone who will travel well – feel like we’re previewing horses here… Lingmerth is one of those enigmatic players who will spring up a top 5 from time to time without showing any signs of doing so prior to that. Well this week, we’ve seen the signs and we’re plumping for a big week.
Jonas Blixt (100/1 Bet365)
Undoubtedly a better player than Lingmerth with a couple of PGA Titles under his belt and one very promising display around Augusta this year. But despite all that, regularly finds himself at high odds because of the inconsistency in his game. Even so, in a field this small with the adverse conditions predicted, this could be a week he does well.
Blixt is one of those guys who will take the ‘Woodland’ approach to this course – spank it 300 yards off the tee and rely on his short game to grind out birdies. And as we know from the Masters, this guy has some short game. His odds don’t reflect the fact he also came 25th last year and was 26th GIR in the process. Fits a few stats for the season too, most notably 10th hole proximity.
Last appearance was in London for the World Match Play, where as we mentioned earlier, shot 10 under par during his match against Casey. In very good touch.
Will Wilcox (250/1 Coral)
His name kept popping up all over our research meaning at these odds we had to give him a jersey for the week. His form is poor, yes, but after showing his metal in the Web.com play-offs, we feel he could spring a surprise this week. 2nd hole proximity, 29th driving accuracy are the pick of his stats while he was also 5th in par 5 birdies for the whole of 2014. Can he continue the trend of high-odds winners?
Let us know your thoughts on our selections and who you fancy this week! @DownThe18th