The PGA Tour shifts east—really, really far east—this week for the first tournament of a three-event Asian swing: the CIMB Classic in Malaysia.
Pat Perez is the defending champion, but the player most closely associated with this event is Justin Thomas. The current world No. 4 picked up his first PGA Tour victory at this event in 2015 and then successfully defended his title in 2016, spurring his five-win 2016-17 season that included his first major, the FedEx Cup title and player of the year honors.
This is just the sixth year of the CIMB Classic as a PGA Tour stop (it's actually a joint Asian Tour/PGA Tour event, though most players are PGA Tour members), though it was played from 2010-11 as an exclusively Asian Tour event. If you're a fan of birdies (and staying up through the night to watch a second-rate PGA Tour event), this is the week for you: the average winning score over the last three years is 24.3 under.
Here's everything you need to know about the first and only PGA Tour event in Southeast Asia.
TPC Kuala Lumpur's West Course, one of two at the facility formerly known as Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club, was originally developed by Malaysian conglomerate Sime Darby in 1991 but underwent a comprehensive redesign that finished in 2009. It hosted the Asian and European Tour's Malaysian Open from 2010-2015 before that event was shut down, and it began hosting the CIMB Classic in 2013.
Located just eight miles from the center of Kuala Lumpur, it's a par-72, parkland-style layout that plays just a hair over 7,000 yards, which is quite short for a par-72. The course's chief defense is its water hazards, which come into play on a solid 10 holes, but they haven't proved to be a very effective defense—the course routinely ranks as one of the PGA Tour's easiest in relation to par. It finishes with a lengthy par 5, the last of four par 5s on the course.
Thomas headlines a field that's significantly stronger than last week's Safeway Open. He's the only top-10 player in the field, and Xander Schauffele and Paul Casey are the only other players ranked inside the world top 20 to be making the trip, but there's some good depth—in total, 17 of the world's top 50 are teeing it up. Keegan Bradley, who finished second at this tournament last year and a player riding a hot streak, is teeing it up. So are Marc Leishman, Louis Oosthuizen, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Billy Horschel and Brandt Snedeker, to name a few. Shubhankar Sharma, Thomas Pieters, Emiliano Grillo headline a strong non-American contingent. And all three participants from last week's three-ma playoff in Napa will be there: Snedeker, Kevin Tway (the winner) and Ryan Moore. Two other notable former major champions competing: Ernie Els and Davis Love III.
Here are some tee times for marquee pairings. For a full list of starting times, click here. All times are eastern.
Kevin Tway, Billy Horschel, Si Woo Kim - 8:40 p.m.* Wednesday/9:40 p.m. Thursday
Justin Thomas, Pat Perez, Ryan Moore -8:50 p.m.*/9:50 a.m.
Byeunghun An, Kiradech Aphibarnrat - 9:20 p.m./8:10 p.m.*
Keegan Bradley, Kevin Na, Gary Woodland - 9:40 p.m./8:30 a.m.*
Brandt Snedeker, Paul Casey, Marc Leishman - 9:50 p.m./8:40 a.m.*
* denotes 10th-tee start
2017 - Pat Perez (-24)
2016 - Justin Thomas (-23)
2015 - Justin Thomas (-26)
2014 - Ryan Moore (-17)
2013 - Ryan Moore (-14)
Justin Thomas +500 - Best player in the field and two-time winner, no surprise he's a big favorite
Billy Horschel +1400 - Three top-four finishes in the FedEx Cup playoffs
Ryan Moore +1600 - Two-time winner of this event finished second last week
Xander Schaufflele +1600 - Many were calling for him during the Ryder Cup debacle
Paul Casey +2000 - Went 2-1 at the Ryder Cup and played inspired golf
Gary Woodland +2200
Marc Leishman +2200
Keegan Bradley +2500 - Runner-up at this event last year, won the BMW in September
Brandt Snedeker +3000 - Runner-up last week in Napa
Cameron Smith +2800
Byeong Hun An +3000
Emiliano Grillo +3500 - Argentinian is a Vegas favorite
Kyle Stanley +3500
Louis Oosthuizen +3500
Rafael Cabrera Bello +3300
Branden Grace +4000
C.T. Pan +4000
Danny Lee +4000
Kevin Na +4000 - Had solid summer, punctuated by win at Greenbrier
Kevin Tway +4000 - Picked up first PGA Tour win last week
Beau Hossler +5000
It's tempting to pick Moore here, given his history at this course and his play last week. But we're going outside the box with Kevin Na at 40-1. The South Korean-born, California-bred 42-year-old hasn't played TPC Kuala Lumpur particularly well in recent years—T-44 in 2017, T-29 in 2016—but he finished T-3 at this tournament in 2015 and T-2 in 2014. He's played solidly since his win at the Greenbrier, making seven of eight cuts and posting four top 25s in the process. And judging from his Instagram, he's been in Asia for at least two weeks, meaning he's comfortably situated and adjusted to the time difference. Na will have one of his hot putting weeks and picks up his third career PGA Tour victory.