WATCH: PGA CLEAN SLATE
The Cheat Sheet provides fantasy golf players with course info, player history and the most noteworthy trends of the week to help them with their roster selections.
This is a co-sanctioned event between the PGA Tour and the Asian Tour. It’s also a no cut event and essentially an invite only tournament. The field in this event cuts out at around 78, but the field is actually quite high in quality. Some of the top players in the world make their way to Malaysia for this event, and this year’s rendition has Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia and Adam Scott all headlining the field. As a no cut event all 70+ players will get in four rounds, so there’s no need to worry about potentially missing out on a good week if your players get off to a slow start.
TPC Kuala Lumpur (West), Malaysia
Par 72, 6,900-7,000 yards
The Kuala Lumpur GCC (now TPC Kuala Lumpur) has hosted this event since 2012 (the year it became an official PGA tour event). It’s a par 72 and carries four par 5’s and five par 3’s. While the extra par 5’s definitely favor golfers with a little more length, this course really is short enough overall that any style of player can go low here as has been proven by past winners. Only one of the par 5’s measures in at greater than 540 yards, and two of the par 3’s are also well under 200 yards in length making them extremely accessible by every player. There should be a ton of birdies made and lots of low scores this week.
TPC Kuala Lumpur can be described as a short, but extremely technical test of golf. There’s water in play on over half the holes, and the greens are quite small and can be difficult to hit. The other issue with this course is the fact that the high humidity really plays a role in how the greens react, and you’ll see some players struggle with the different type of grass and green speeds this week. That being said, the humidity also keeps the greens extremely soft, and players won’t have any issues holding the greens for the most part. Last year saw eventual champion, and first time player, Justin Thomas flirt with a 59 before going on to win the event at an astonishing -26.
Last 5 winners
- 2015 — Justin Thomas -26 (over Adam Scott -25)
- 2014 — Ryan Moore -17 (over Gary Woodland -16)
- 2013 — Ryan Moore -14 (playoff over Gary Woodland)
- 2012 — Nick Watney -22 (over Robert Garrigus -21)
- Three of the last four winners were playing in this event for the first time
- Both the first and second place finishers in this event over the past three years have ranked inside the top 50 in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green
1) Birdie Average
2) Strokes Gained: Tee to Green
3) Par 3/Par 5 Scoring
This course is a really interesting test not just because of the course, but the climate too. Ryan Moore is an excellent all-around golfer who relies more on accuracy than power and has torn up this course. Subsequently, power hitter Justin Thomas got to -26 last year, so there really isn’t a huge way to lean as far as style of play is concerned. This course also requires players take advantage of the easier holes, so birdie average is again a good barometer, especially for fantasy purposes. Past winners and Top 5’ers at the CIMB have almost always ended their season highly in this stat.
In general, this seems to be the same story about Strokes Gained: Tee to Green which has seen most of the top finishers in this event rank well in this category. The past three years none of the top two finishers have ranked outside the top 50 in that area. Lastly for a bit more specificity, I don’t think looking at Par 5 Scoring and/or Par 3 Scoring is a bad idea. Justin Thomas ranked 2nd in Par 5 Scoring in 2015, while two-time winner Ryan Moore ranked inside the top ten in Par 3 Scoring in the year of his win. The course is really designed for players to take advantage of these holes, so looking for players who pop-up up in one or both of these categories this week isn’t a bad idea by any means.
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful of putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their odds of winning this week.
|Russell Knox||40-1||$8,200||Anirban Lahiri $8,300 and 50-1
Tony Finau $8,100 and 50-1
Scott Piercy $8,900 and 40-1
|Hudson Swafford||100-1||$6,600||David Lingmerth $6,600 and 125-1
Brian Stuard $6700 and 200-1
Jon Curran $6,800 and 200-1
HORSES FOR COURSES
Ryan Moore needs no introduction. He’s won this event two of the three years he’s played it. The veteran has had a great season thus far and should be considered the lead horse for the venue this week.
Kevin Na came here two years ago and took second in his first try. Last year he took 3rd. It seems as though he digs the track and that makes him a lead horse for the week.
Gary Woodland definitely rivals Ryan Moore’s success at this course, in two appearances he’s finished second to Moore on both occasions. The big hitter has done well at dialing it back and stalking a ton of birdies at this venue.
Anirban Lahiri has a top ten and a win at the a Malaysian Open, a Euro Tour event which is held at this complex every year. At $8,300, I think he’s overpriced for this field but has been playing better of late and knows the setup very well.
With there being no cut this week, the goal will be to ensure you fit in as many high upside plays in as possible. While no players will miss the cut, you’ll still need 6 golfers who finish inside the top 30 to give yourself a shot at a high finish, and of course you’ll need birdies, a lot of them. There’s no point in going stars and scrubs if you’re fielding two or three players who will be near the bottom of the leaderboard all week. This tournament is very much about upside, as such, you’ll want players who can get hot and put together a big round or two and some fantasy bonuses.
MY PICK: Rafa Cabrera-Bello ($9,200)
Cabrera-Bello has been painstakingly close to a win all year and has posted two finishes of T5 in his last five starts alone. The ball striking wizard from Spain has really proven himself at some of the best events in the world this year as well, as he’s gone from making the cut at the last three majors to a T5 finish at the Olympics, to being one of the stars for Europe at the Ryder Cup. Cabrera-Bello has been in stellar form all season, and it seems like ending it with a win at an event like this would be justified. To go along with his great recent form, Bello has two top five finishes here in five starts so familiarity with the course is a plus on his side as well. I like the Spaniard this week to light up this very gettable setup.
MY SLEEPER: Danny Lee ($6,700)
Sleeper Qualification: must be under $7,000 in salary and projected by me to be less than 10% owned
Lee has been in bad form for some time now, so it’s reasonable for people to fade him at this point. However, he has gotten down to a price where he should be considered now based on value alone. Lee has also shown some signs lately of snapping out of his funk. After finishing last season with three straight missed cuts Lee turned in a better outing last week by making the weekend and posting a couple rounds of four and five under respectively. With some roots in this area of the world, Lee has played this event before finishing in the top 20 both times he’s played and finished the event. At $6,700, on a course where huge distance off the tee isn’t needed, I think Lee can excel this week and makes for a nice play this week.
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