CIMB Classic: Schauffele can star in Malaysia

CIMB Classic: Schauffele can star in Malaysia

The PGA Tour enjoys a rare trip away from the US mainland this week with the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, Phil Casey writes.

Co-sanctioned with the Asian Tour, the £5.3million event has been dominated by American players in its previous five editions, with Ryan Moore winning the first two, Justin Thomas the next two and Pat Perez claiming victory 12 months ago.

Low scoring is the order of the day at TPC Kuala Lumpur, where Thomas was a combined 49 under par for his two wins, although it remains to be seen whether a change to Bermuda grass will have a noticeable effect on the scoring.

Thomas was one of the few bright spots on the defeated US Ryder Cup team as he won four points from five matches, including beating Rory McIlroy in the opening singles contest, but that form and his previous wins mean he is tough to back at 5/1.

Our preference from the top end of the market is therefore former Tour Championship winner Xander Schauffele, who was third on his debut in the event last year, when only a closing 72 prevented him from fully challenging for the title.

Schauffele was a contender for a Ryder Cup wild card and did nothing wrong at the end of the season, finishing third and seventh in the final two FedEx Cup play-offs, only to see Bryson DeChambeau and Tony Finau perform even better.

A fortnight off will hopefully have done nothing to change Schauffele’s form and he can be backed in the each-way market at 16/1.

Our next selection comes into the event on the back of a top-10 finish in the Safeway Open, New Zealand’s Danny Lee making the staking plan at 45/1 in the each-way market.

Lee’s tie for 10th at Silverado came after a strong end to the 2018 campaign and he ranked a decent 39th in birdie average on the PGA Tour for that season, which included a tie for seventh in Malaysia.

And finally we’ll take a chance on Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, whose course form includes a withdrawal and three missed cuts, but also an unusual double entry of 1-3 in 2013, when he won the Malaysian Open in March and finished third in the CIMB Classic in October.

Aphibarnrat can be backed in the each-way market at 80/1.

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