Power Rankings: CIMB ClassicNORTON, MA - AUGUST 31: Phil Mickelson of the USA reacts to his putt on the 15th green during the second round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on August 31, 2013 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)October 21, 2013
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM fantasy columnist
For the first time in FedExCup history, a tournament in Asia is included in the season-long points grab. The distinction goes to this week's CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
It's a tournament not unfamiliar to the PGA TOUR as it debuted in 2010 as part of an unofficial, introductory swing through the Far East, but it will now reward FedExCup points and official earnings. No fewer than 10 members of the Asian Tour received invitations and as many as 12 are scheduled to compete. The winner, if not otherwise exempt, will also receive invitations into the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, the Masters, THE PLAYERS Championship and the PGA Championship.
What is new to the field of 78 in this no-cut tournament is the host track. Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club's West Course is the test. It was designed by Nelson & Haworth in 1991 and hosted the Malaysian Open in 2006 before architects Geoff and Ted Parslow were brought in for an overhaul. It reopened in 2008 and has hosted the Malaysian Open since 2010. (The East Course hosts an LPGA event.)
The course is a par 36-36=72 and measures just 6,967 yards, and that includes a 634-yard finishing hole. Greens average 6,500 square feet and are prepped to run at 11 on the Stimpmeter. That's a fair reading given the likelihood of precipitation in the tropical environs. A reasonable threat for rain and storms exists throughout the week. Temperatures will rise into the mid- to upper 80s. Light winds won't do much to relieve the effects of humidity.
The grass on the green is seashore paspalum, which is a salt-water tolerant strand on which American touring professionals play in the OHL Classic at Mayakoba and Puerto Rico Open presented by seepuertorico.com. Kiawah Island also featured a similar surface for the 2012 PGA Championship.
NOTE: Louis Oosthuizen's 17-under 271 is the course record, but for similar characteristics among winners at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club's West Course, please look for "Stats Suggest" in The TOUR Report on Wednesday.
Power Rankings: CIMB Classic Rank Player Comment Phil MICKELSON If it's possible that the lefty can have multiple career years, he's fresh off his latest. He's always embraced trips to Asia and his last two victories came overseas (both in Scotland). Currently No. 3 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Hideki MATSUYAMA While illness forced him to withdraw before his opening round of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, the opportunity to rest can't be a bad thing even though he's recorded 11 top 10s in 17 starts worldwide as a professional. Keegan BRADLEY Went 2-2-1 at the Presidents Cup. Winless during the compressed 2013 season, but still amassed career highs in top 10s (seven) and top 25s (15). Worst finish in a no-cut event in 2013 was T16 at the BMW Championship. Bill HAAS His 2-2-1 record at The Presidents Cup doesn't reflect how well he struck the ball all week. It was an extension of his form all season during which he co-led the PGA TOUR with (a career-high) nine top 10s. Ranked 18th in adjusted scoring. Sergio GARCIA First start since polishing off his second consecutive TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola with a share of ninth place at East Lake. Top 25s in 23 of his last 29 starts worldwide. Eighth on the 2013 PGA TOUR in strokes gained-putting. David LYNN It took nine years but he's now a multiple winner on the European Tour. The Englishman rested after roaring home with a 63 to win the Portugal Masters by one stroke on Oct. 13. Great putters are always a threat in a no-cut event. Roberto CASTRO The multi-ethnic, Georgia Tech product figures to enjoy the opportunity to experience the culture. He was one of only five that posted top 25s in each event during the FedExCup Playoffs. Ranked 45th in adjusted scoring in 2013. Ryan MOORE Put the clubs away after winning in Vegas last year to stay at home with his newborn son. This time, he's looking to parlay a T9 at TPC Summerlin into success abroad. Tied for 11th in his previous start (BMW Championship). Charley HOFFMAN Took solo fourth at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open on the strength of a closing, bogey-free, 7-under 64. Hit all 18 GIR during the finale. He tosses it on top of the career-tying-best five top 10s logged during the 2013 season. Kiradech APHIBARNRAT The 24-year-old Thai won this year's Malaysian Open (in 54 holes due to weather). That opened doors on the European Tour, but he's enjoyed most of his success on his home circuit, including a T4 in South Korea two weeks ago. Nick WATNEY The defending champion is on a new course, but his form of late is too strong to ignore. A T48 at the shootout that is the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open is ignorable since he registered three top 15s during the FedExCup Playoffs. Jimmy WALKER No hangover in Vegas. While he started sluggishly at TPC Summerlin, he recovered to share 12th place on the coattails of his breakthrough victory at the Frys.com Open. In fact, the T12 is the worst result of his last three starts. Jeff OVERTON Last American in the field (when Robert Garrigus passed on the invitation). With a T16 and T9 to begin the 2013-14 season, Overton has already matched his total of top 25s from all of 2013. Ranks 12th in scrambling early on. Scott HEND The Aussie is a long-hitting, former PGA TOUR member and sits second on the Asian Tour's Order of Merit thanks to a trio of victories this year. He's won twice in the last three weeks, including by three in Macau on Sunday. Ernie ELS Played eight straight weeks worldwide into the FedExCup Playoffs but finished no better than T20 (twice) during that run. His Playoffs ended with a T51 at the BMW, but he's gone on to finish T17 (Dunhill Links) and T3 (Macau) since.