Golf Rankings for CIMB Classic
It was a solid opening week for my rankings at the Safeway Open, with my 8th ranked golfer (Brendan Steele) taking home the trophy. My top-5 ranked players were Paul Casey, Emiliano Grillo, Justin Thomas, Phil Mickelson, and John Rahm, who finished 3rd, 26th, 8th, 8th, and 15th, respectively.
This week, the Tour heads to Malaysia for a co-sanctioned event with the Asian Tour. Only 60 PGA Players receive automatic spots in this field, and the rest is rounded out by Asia's best players. This week's field is headlined by Paul Casey, Hideki Matsuyama, Adam Scott, Patrick Reed, Justin Thomas, and Sergio Garcia. Adam Scott and Sergio Garcia are coming off decently long layoffs, Paul Casey comes in scorching hot, and Hideki Matsuyama comes in off a win on the Japan Tour last week. It's also important to note that this is a no-cut event, meaning every player gets to play four rounds, no matter what. That always lends itself to a stars-and-scrubs roster construction.
The course hasn't changed since 2010, but it has changed names a few times (now called TPC Kuala Lumpur). This is a par-72 course which only measures 6,985 yards, making it one of the shortest the players see all year. This means distance isn't going to be as important, and ball-striking, driving accuracy, proximity to hole, and greens in regulation are my target stats. Our two course horses fit that mold to a tee: Kevin Na and Ryan Moore. I also don't think putting is as important this week, because last year's leaderboard was littered with…uh…sub-par putters: Justin Thomas (win), Adam Scott (2nd), Hideki Matsuyama (5th), and Tony Finau (8th).
What stats are we looking towards this week?
Birdie or Better % (BoB%):
There's really not many weeks where we aren't going to target birdie or better percentage, because that's what fantasy golf scoring is all about. Last year, there were some really low rounds here, and Justin Thomas won with a total of -26. Guys like Thomas, Tony Finau, Daniel Berger, and Smylie Kaufman come to mind in this week's field when targeting birdie makers who will benefit from the no-cut format. It's possible to have a player finish top-10 in fantasy points while not finishing anywhere near the top-10 in the actual event.
Strokes Gained Approach (SG:Approach):
TPC Kuala Lumpur is a fairly short course, so hitting fairways and subsequently hitting greens will be critical. I think players will distance themselves from the field based on proximity to the hole on approach shots on the par-4s, and tee shots on the par-3s. When looking at how players in this field finished in 2016's SG:Approach stats, you'll see some names that are reflected in my rankings below: Adam Scott (1st), Kevin Na (2nd), Hideki Matsuyama (3rd), Kevin Chappell (9th), and Paul Casey (11th).
Par 5 Scoring (P5):
Not as critical as par-4 scoring this week, but there are reachable par-5 holes that players will need to dominate. I'm not just targeting bombers here, but players who score well on all types of par-5 holes (i.e. great wedge players).
As usual, we will be looking towards strokes gained tee-to-green from last season, but with a lot of players coming off month-long breaks, it's a bit unpredictable.
Adam Scott - World Ranking: #14
Hideki Matsuyama - World Ranking: #2
Justin Thomas - World Ranking: #12
Ryan Moore - World Ranking: #45
Scott Piercy - World Ranking: #63
Kevin Na - World Ranking: #64
Patrick Reed - World Ranking: #17
Kevin Chappell - World Ranking: #25
Paul Casey - World Ranking: #16
Sergio Garcia - World Ranking: #5
Tony Finau - World Ranking: #67
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