KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – CIMB Group announced that the CIMB Classic 2013, the first official PGA TOUR FedExCup event in Asia, will move to Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club (KLGCC). The announcement comes as Phil Mickelson, winner of 41 PGA TOUR events including four major championships, and the event’s three past champions, Ben Crane, Bo Van Pelt and 2012 winner Nick Watney, all confirmed their commitments to play at the tournament from October 24-27 at KLGCC’s championship West Course.
“The CIMB Classic is now a marquee event on the PGA TOUR calendar. The event has grown from strength to strength over the last four years. This year it makes its debut as a full-fledged PGA TOUR FedExCup event with an increased field and a new venue. KLGCC is a venue that will give us the scale we need to take it to the next level,” said Dato’ Sri Nazir Razak, Group Chief Executive, CIMB Group.
“The Mines is a world-class facility and have been great partners over last three years. We extend our greatest thanks and appreciation to their management and staff for all the effort in getting us to where we are today,” said Nazir.
"We are delighted to have our past champions Ben, Bo and Nick back; and we look forward to seeing Phil tee off in Malaysia for the first time. I am confident that this year’s CIMB Classic will be yet another amazing display of talent,” he added.
The fairways of KLGCC are situated just eight kilometers away from the heart of the city. Originally opened in 1991, the West and East Courses were completely redesigned by renowned international golf course architects E & G Parslow and re-opened in 2008 and 2010, respectively. The course is no stranger to world-class golf, serving as the host of the European Tour and Asian Tour’s co-sanctioned Malaysian Open for the past four years, as well as the LPGA Malaysia for the past three. KLGCC has consistently been recognised as the best course in Malaysia and Asia by numerous publications for the past three consecutive years.
“It is a privilege for any golf club to host an international tournament; to host an official PGA TOUR FedExCup event is a truly unique opportunity. We are honoured and KLGCC members are in for a great golfing treat with all the excitement around the club,” said Steven Thielke, General Manager of KLGCC. “We are extremely pleased to have been entrusted to host such a prestigious event,” he added.
With the PGA TOUR’s 2013 FedExCup season currently on its path towards the Playoffs in August and September, there is added anticipation towards the newly aligned 2013-14 season starting this October. The new start of the season includes the CIMB Classic, which will award FedExCup Points as part of the season-long 2013-14 FedExCup competition, making it the first official FedExCup event on the PGA TOUR to be held in Asia. With official FedExCup points being awarded, more PGA TOUR players are expected to make the trip to Malaysia for this year’s event.
Mickelson, who is no stranger to Asia having competed at the Singapore Open annually since 2007, along with multiple appearances and two titles at the World Golf Championships in Shanghai, will make his debut at the CIMB Classic as well as on Malaysian soil. Mickelson has a career total of 41 PGA TOUR wins including four major championship victories at the Masters Tournament in 2004, 2006 and 2010 and the PGA Championship in 2005. He is the only player on TOUR with victories in each of the last 10 seasons. Mickelson currently ranks 5th in the FedExCup standings having carded four top-10s including one victory in 12 starts on the PGA TOUR this year. He currently ranks 10th in the world, with more than 700 weeks in the top 10 since 1996.
"I've heard great things about Kuala Lumpur and the CIMB Classic from the guys who played there. This will be my first visit to Malaysia, I'm really excited and looking forward to the experience," Mickelson said. "The CIMB Classic presents an excellent opportunity for PGA TOUR players to compete in Asia, and it's part and parcel of promoting the game globally. I think it's fantastic that the CIMB Classic is part of the FedExCup; it certainly drives the tournament's competitiveness and encourages the presence of American golfers in the region."
Watney came from four strokes off the lead to shoot a final-round, course-record and personal-best 61 to win the 2012 CIMB Classic in his first-ever appearance at the event. The four-round total of 262 is one off the tournament record set by Van Pelt in 2011. For the week, Watney recorded 25 birdies, despite only having one birdie during Thursday’s opening round. Watney has five wins on the PGA TOUR.
Van Pelt ran away with the CIMB Classic in 2011, making birdies on five of the last eight holes for a 7-under 64 and a six-stroke victory. Van Pelt returned in 2012 to defend his CIMB Classic title on the heels of perhaps his best season on the PGA TOUR after posting 10 top-10 finishes in 24 starts and finishing a career-best No. 22 in the FedExCup standings. Van Pelt fell one stroke short of defending his title in 2012. Van Pelt, who entered the final round tied for the lead with Robert Garrigus, shot a final-round 5-under-par 66 making par on the18th hole to settle for T2 one week after winning the ISPS HANDA Perth International.
Winner of the inaugural CIMB Classic in 2010, Crane has a consistent record in his three years at this event, including a scoring average of 67.5 in 12 rounds. In fact, all of Crane’s rounds have been in the 60s and he has yet to finish outside the top 20. Crane has been one of the more consistent players on the PGA TOUR over the last three-and-a-half years with two victories and 15 top-10 finishes since the start of the 2010 season.
Players will compete for increased prize money of US$7 million, as compared to US$6.1 million the year before. The tournament, which is also co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, will feature 78 players, with 60 coming from the PGA TOUR, 10 from the Asian Tour and eight sponsor’s exemptions, including two Malaysians.
The winner of this competition will also gain a two-year exemption on the PGA TOUR.