The $100,000 Monster Drive is next weekend, and you only get one chance a week to brush up on your daily fantasy golf skills per week, so you might as well get your team prepped for the early Thursday morning start time. And even if you feel like October is not the time to be concerning yourself with golf, this is as good a weekend as any to get in on the action.
This is now the fifth tournament of the season, but the year always starts slow on the PGA tour, with many of the top players taking time away from the game and European players not really being enticed to play in the lower-profile American tournaments. But this weekend’s CIMB Classic held in Malaysia is different, featuring by far the best field of the year so far, filled with plenty of high-profile names you will recognize.
The Kuala Lumpur Golf & CC offers up a stunning course, a serious purse, and FedEx Cup points, and if the pros take it seriously, then why shouldn’t you?
With late tee times on Sunday, three of the participants in last weekend’s McGladrey Classic are going to be hard-pressed to make it around the world to Malaysia in time for so much as a warm-up bucket before their rounds: Will MacKenzie ($6,500), Stewart Cink ($6,600) and Brendon de Jonge ($8,800). It’s up to you whether this means they’ll be playing free and loose, or tired and cranky, with a bad back from those uncomfortable airline seats. But I will be shying away.
This tournament is co-sponsored by the Asian Tour, and at least ten of the slots in this field of 76 will be filled with players who play all their tournaments in that setting. There is also no cut here, so just making it to Sunday with all your picks isn’t an advantage – you want guys who are going to be able to close, and finish at least somewhere in the top third or so. You’re going to want to roster at least one of the favorites, because they are that way for a reason, and they’re going to score you points. And that is likely going to mean saving money not by leaning on a bunch of American names you know well, but on players who have been performing well on this side of the world, with whom you might not be all that familiar.
Sergio Garcia ($12,200): He’s expensive. But remember, this is a player who RACKS up fantasy points, even when he is not necessarily winning tournaments. He is going to have plenty of holes under par, every time, and last we saw him, he was playing really well in the Ryder Cup. He’s the highest ranked player in the field (4th) and he finished T-11 here last year. He’s as safe a bet as you’ll find.
Patrick Reed ($9,500): For saving you almost $3,000 compared to Garcia, Reed is also a very safe choice this weekend. You probably don’t remember, but he was dealing with a minor wrist injury when he finished T-40 here last year, so don’t let that dissuade you. More recently, he went out and finished 3-0-1 at the Ryder Cup, proving he can compete with anyone, and that he is feeling much better than he was last fall.
Anirban Lahiri ($7,100): This is the kind of pick you can make to start to save the money you’ll need to employ those top options like Garcia and Reed. Lahiri is someone you may not be familiar with, but he finished T35 here last year in an equally deep field, and has been playing great golf on the Asian Tour, currently sitting at #2 in their rankings. He won this past weekend in Macau, and has five top-15 finishes in his last seven starts. The strength of his game is in his scrambling, his approach, around the green – anything but off the tee. But that’s what will lead you to success on a course that is tough, but does not challenge these guys with distance.
Chris Stroud ($7,000): Another choice that will let you bank some money for other players, Stroud finished last season strong, inside the top 50 in each of his last three events. He finished T-3 here last year with a 275, and with a course this challenging, a score like that would likely get him near the top of the leaderboard yet again.