Kuala Lumpur CC, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Par 72, 7,005 yards
Defending Champion: Justin Thomas (-23) by 3 over Hideki Matsuyama
Primary Stats- Greens in Regulation (GIR), Par 4 Scoring (400-500 yards), Par 5 Scoring (500-550 yards), Birdies/DraftKings Scoring
Secondary Stats- SG: Approach, SG: Tee-to-Green, Putting
Timeframe: Past 24 Rounds unless specified.
Lineup Lock: 12:00am EST (Thursday), 11:00pm CST, 10:00pm MST, 9:00 PST (Wednesday)
The international portion of the Fall Swing takes some of the Tour to Malaysia for the CIMB Classic, a no-cut event. This is the fifth year in existence and has had only 2 winners: Ryan Moore in 2013 and 2014, and Justin Thomas in 2015 and 2016. Also, please note the roster lock times, being Wednesday night for most of the U.S. and Canada, and a midnight lock on the east coast for Wed. night/Thurs. morning.. This is about 6-7 hours sooner than usual, and if you are a night owl, you should be able to watch some of the opening rounds on Golf Channel.
Looks like there are chances of rain almost every day during the tournament, but I don't see any winds affecting play. No tee time advantages.
CIMB Classic Strategy
Not only is this a no-cut event, but we some non PGA Tour members playing. There are 60 PGA Tour members, 10 Asian Tour members, and 8 sponsor's exemptions (Credit: www.asiantour.com). Add in the fact that it's going to be happening overnight for many people and a no-cut event, I don't see myself playing any cash games, and playing only a few tournaments. The edge that is usually present in a traditional tournament gets removed in a no-cut event.
Justin Thomas is 49 under par the past two years here. We are going to need golfers who can get birdies, so that is why you will see me look at birdies as a main stat. The course is not long so I'm not relying on driving distance, though it won't hurt. I didn't see any correlation between fairways hit and finishing position, but did see Greens in Regulation was important. I'll also look at the distances of these holes as my main stats.
Finally, I did mention that I was going to change up the article format from week to week. I did FanDuel last week, and did get one favorable comment for that. Yet, my best site a week ago was Fantasy Draft. There was some overlay there (watch for it again with not everyone realizing the start time is earlier than usual), but regardless, I had a good week, despite only having 5 golfers make the cut. They have the sharpest (tightest) pricing of the three sites, so I will be digging for a few picks. With only 78 players, I'm only going to write up two per section. However, I will mention other names that I could see myself ending up on before lock.
Justin Thomas (21,000)
Two-time winner of this event, major champion, and FedEx Cup winner in the past year? Yes, there's a good reason he's this expensive. He has gained 32 strokes the past two years at the CIMB Classic. 1st in Birdies, 2nd in the short Par 4s, and 3rd in SG: Approach. He fits statistically as well. The only question: Can we pay up for him? Fanduel, there's no reason to fade him. DraftKings, you can comfortably fit him but don't have to. FantasyDraft, it's a challenge. As the toughest pricing site, you are left with about 13,100 per golfer. While you certainly can do it, you probably need to punt one position and hope you get the other 5 spots correct. He is really good, but on FantasyDraft, I would leave him as a GPP play due to that high price. (Cash on FanDuel, GPP everywhere)
Hideki Matsuyama (19,100)
All the attention will be on Thomas, but it's not like Matsuyama has been bad here. He's been 2nd and 5th the past two years, and if there's anyone in the field that can keep up with JT, it's Hideki. In the four years of this event, Matsuyama leads the field with 34 strokes gained. He ranks 4th in Par 5 SG and Approach, 5th in Birdies, and 10th in Greens in Regulation. The 1,900 savings is big on FantasyDraft, and if people are going to jam Thomas into their lineups here and other sites, I like going Matsuyama as a contrarian move. (Cash and GPP)
Charl Schwartzel (16,500)
Schwartzel is never a popular choice due to some early withdrawals in the past. He only had three Top 10s last season but he's still a world class player that should be able to contend here. Charl was 19th here in 2014, and has some stats that should play well here: 1st in Par 5 SG, 7th in Par 4: 450-500 SG, 13th in Approach, and 16th in Birdies. Even in this small field, I think Charl goes underowned and don't mind starting my lineups with him, if you don't want to pay up for Hideki or Thomas. (GPP)
Bud Cauley (15,800)
Cauley has made a lot of cuts recently, and did get to the BMW Championship, the 3rd playoff event, last season. He's also coming off a 7th place finish last week at the Safeway, and was in the final group on Sunday. This is first trip to the CIMB, but has stats that should make him a good play here. Cauley is 9th in Approach and GIR, 10th in Par 4: 400-450, and Top 25 in everything else except birdies. He does have a little upside, but if you're building a balanced lineup in cash games, I do think Cauley is a nice play there. (Cash)
Others to Consider: Gary Woodland, Xander Schauffele, Kevin Na (I never get him right, and I don't have him on my initial lineups), Scott Piercy, Russell Knox, and James Hahn
Cash: Hahn, Na
GPP: Woodland, Piercy, Knox, Schauffele (due to price)
Keegan Bradley (14,500)
Keegan is one that you play in tournaments, and you never feel great about it. But, every time I ran the stats on Fantasy National for 12, 24, 50, and even 100 rounds, he kept popping in the model. There is nothing that he is great at; but, he's above average in all the stats I'm looking at this week. Keegan also does have two Top 10s here in three appearances. He does provide nice upside at this price range, but just understand his floor is as low as his ceiling is high. (GPP)
Stewart Cink (13,400)
Cink had a revival last season with three Top 10s and making it to the BMW Championship, nearly making the Tour Championship. In the last two events of the Playoffs, he finished 12th and 27th. He has an 11th and 17th in prior years at the CIMB Classic, and has stats that should play well here. Cink is 2nd in Approach, 6th in Par 4 SG: 350-400, and 15th in GIR. Cink is playable in all formats with recent form and decent course history. (Cash and GPP)
Others to Consider: Jamie Lovemark, Scott Hend, Luke List, and Harold Varner III
Cash: Lovemark, Varner III
GPP: Lovemark, Hend, List, Varner III
12,900 and Below Tier
Richy Werenski (12,900)
The surprise name that came up in my research was Werenski. The more I dug into him, the more I like him as a nice cheap option. He's made seven straight cuts, with four Top 25s in that span (all on low-scoring courses). He ranks 8th in Birdies, 9th in Par 4 SG: 450-500, and is above average in the other categories. I'm thinking he won't be a popular choice but I like his form and his game fits this course. (Cash and GPP)
Martin Flores (12,700)
I'm willing to throw out last weekend's struggles for Flores, who has been in good form before last weekend. Flores had four Top 25s in his last six events, all of which were in lower scoring courses, including having 20 birdies in the Wyndham and 22 birdies in the Barracuda. Flores is 20th in both Approach and GIR. He does rank low in birdies thanks to some struggles last weekend and at the Northern Trust. However, he has shown that he can score. A cheap GPP flyer, Flores is one of those players on FantasyDraft that you don't feel fully comfortable with, but has the scoring upside you're looking for in this range. (GPP)
Others to Consider: Danny Lee, Chris Stroud
GPP: Lee, Stroud
Don't forget about the Wednesday night lock time. I'm curious to see if that leads to overlay, or if that overlay is quickly taken away since more people are going to notice. Get into your games by Wednesday afternoon at best. I have noticed that I see some of you are leaving ratings. If you have comments, please leave them, including whether you like the site format changes each week, or if you like one site that I should use. Good luck with your lineups and feel free to contact me on Twitter (@skeeterrobinson) if you have any questions or suggestions.