The Starter: Round 1, CIMB Asia Pacific Classic Malaysia

October 27, 2010
PGA TOUR staff

The first round of the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic Malaysia is set to begin Wednesday night (ET). Here's a preview:

Groups we're watching:
Tee time Players  
8:51 p.m. ET
No. 1
D.J. Trahan, Y.E. Yang
Yang's PGA TOUR best this year is just a third in Phoenix, though he has won twice worldwide. He'll have plenty of fan support in Malaysia.
9:44 p.m. ET
No. 1
Rickie Fowler, Charlie Wi
Two talented players still looking for a first PGA TOUR win; this is a TOUR-sanctioned event with credibility given the international talent. And better odds with the 40-man field.
11:50 p.m. ET
No. 1
Luke Donald, Seung-yul Noh
An intriguing pairing of the No. 8-ranked player in the world (highest in the field) and a 19-year-old potential future star who won the Malaysian Open earlier this year.

EXPERT PREVIEW: PGATOUR.COM Chief of Correspondents Helen Ross previews Thursday's action:

Forgive Ernie Els if he doesn't know what time zone he's in right now. Last week, the Big Easy was in Bermuda, where he came from behind to win the PGA Grand Slam of Golf. Now he finds himself in Southeast Asia, making his first trip to Malaysia, where he enters the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic among the favorites.

Thursday's forecast

Scattered storms
Temp: 90 high/73 low
Chance of rain 60 percent. NW winds around 8 mph.

Els is one of two players who came to this inaugural event -- the first ever co-sanctioned by the PGA TOUR in Asia -- with two TOUR titles this year. The other is Bill Haas, who, like Els, has momentum after winning the Viking Classic earlier this month. Els is particularly pleased with his new Callaway driver and the way he saw putts going in -- finally -- on the back nine a week ago in Bermuda.

In all there are eight PGA TOUR champions in the elite 40-man field with a total of 10 victories in 2010. Englishman Luke Donald is the highest placed competitor from the Official World Golf Ranking at No. 8. First place, while unofficial money, still spends well at $1.08 million and the total purse is an eye-catching $6 million.

Let's not forget the 10 players who made the field based on their positions in the Asian Tour Order of Merit, though. The current leader is an extremely talented 19-year-old named Noh Seung-yul who won the Malaysian Open earlier this year. Could Noh make it two in a row after 17-year-old Matteo Manassero won on the European Tour last week?

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Among the other Asian Tour veterans is the well-traveled Thongchai Jaidee, who has 12 victories worldwide -- including two last year. The 40-year-old veteran knows the chance to play alongside some of the game's most established stars will only help grow the game in Malaysia and beyond. "It is very important to have big events in Asia," Jaidee said. "This is a good learning curve for me because we get to observe and learn from the PGA TOUR players on their preparation and their game."