With a short week, this week’s Core Fore will contain some course notes, relevant stats for PGA DFS ($) and strategy ($) on top of the regular Core Fore.
CUT LINE: No-Cut Event – Field of 78
COURSE: TPC Kuala Lumpur, 7005 yards, par-72
The CIMB Classic is a newer tournament, running for the last three seasons in Malaysia. The tournament is hosted at TPC Kuala Lumpur (formerly Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club), which is a short course that can play very easy – Justin Thomas won it last year with a score of -26. It also hosts the Malaysian Open on the European Tour, so that’s some added course history to look at.
With seashore paspalum greens and high humidity, it makes it tough for golfers to land balls on the slightly smaller than average greens. This will put an emphasis on getting close to the green and sticking a wedge, so good scrambling will have a positive impact, as well as targeting Greens in Regulation. Another course that featured these greens was the Rio golf course so looking at who putted well there is something to target for deeper research.
The course has water hazards littered throughout, covering 13 holes; with the accuracy needed as well as the distance off a short course, Good Drive Percentage will be one of the stats to keep an eye on. Bogey Avoidance is always a key stat especially with penalty hazards in play, so good ball-striking golfers succeed here. There are a multitude of bunkers, both fairway and surrounding the greens, and although the fairways are lined with trees at points they really shouldn’t come into play – the bunkers are of an average width.
THE CORE FORE
Core #1: Alex Cejka ($7400)
With an excellent Good Drive percentage of 84.59%, Cejka leads the way for DFSDatalytics’ projected value plays. He’s currently projected to finish second, and comes in very cheaply just based on talent alone. Cejka played this tournament to open last season, and finished T17.
One of the things to look at was how the Olympic golfers fared on the putting greens: on paspalum, Cejka has gained 0.94 strokes gained which is a boost of 0.6 when compared to his regular putting stats. (Courtesy of Josh Culp, futureoffantasy.com) Cejka nails 40.46% of one-putts, and is in general a slightly above average putter; he 3-putts only 2.16% of the time, which is good for 21st on tour. He’s an excellent player around the green, ranking third and ninth for Scrambling and Scrambling out of the rough respectively. This helps him to his 23rd ranking of Strokes: Gained Around the Green (0.297), and will be one of the important factors this week. With the greens carrying a lot of roll in the heat, Cejka will have to be creative to put himself in good positions, and should.
He’s not a long hitter, with a Driving Distance of only 282, but that should play well for Cejka here – his lack of distance is made up for by his accuracy, and although the longer hitters will have much shorter approach shots, on a short course Cejka sets up well with longer irons. His Average Distance to the Hole is 175.9 yards, but he hits 64.49% of his greens when 100+ yards away which is only a 3% drop from his regular GIR number. An issue that may hold Cejka back this week is that he’s more of a safe golfer than a birdie maker, but with 46% Par-5 Birdie or Better and four par-5s and a great Bogey Avoidance he’ll have his opportunities to catch up to the field without dropping any larger numbers.
Core #2: Chad Campbell ($6900)
After an up and down season on the PGA tour last year, Chad Campbell looks to reset and continue the 2017 season with a bang – Campbell finished T57 last week at the Safeway Open on the back of his tee to green game (1.016 strokes gained last week). His putting was and is suspect, losing 1.33 SG:P at the Safeway and -0.298 last season. In his only appearance in Malaysia, Campbell finished T27 here last October.
Campbell makes another great value pick, with solid play from tee to green (28th in 2016) and great numbers around the green (0.339 strokes gained, 18th). Much like Alex Cejka he’s a shorter but accurate player, and is another good Bogey Avoidance player. He’s very good at staying steady on par-3s with a scoring average of 3.00, but tends not to make birdies on the shorter holes – a par-3 Birdie or Better % of only 13.29%. He should find success on the four par-5s, with his P5BoB% of 47.39% (26th).
If Campbell can get some putts to drop off the hop, he should find himself with a nice position bonus. He’s not an excellent scoring player, but with a projected finish of 8th he’ll pick up enough points and leaves enough money on the table to target someone that scores well like Paul Casey.
Core #3: Kevin Na ($9900)
There is always a lot to like about Kevin Na in these weaker fields, and this tournament has been exceptionally kind to him the last two season: T2 in the 2015 season and T3 last year. That gives him one of the better course histories this side of Ryan Moore who won back-to-back in 2014 and 2015. Na just finished 7th at the Safeway Open, and ripped his way through the FedEx Cup playoffs a month ago to give him excellent “recent” form.
Like most of the Core Fore, Na excels from tee to green and is average to slightly below average on the greens. Where Na really shines is on his approach, finishing last season third in Strokes Gained: Approach and grabbing 1.069 last week at Safeway. Continuing the common theme, he’s a short hitter off the tee, but very accurate and had the 21st best Good Drive Percentage on tour last year. With his lack of distance off the tee, he usually struggles on par-5s but with a par-72 of barely 7,000 yards he should be able to score on them. He’s the second best on par-4s, averaged 3.86 birdies per round last year, and had a weighted scoring average of 70.09. He’s surprisingly cheap given his (short) history here and his form coming in, so take advantage while you can.
Core #4: Chez Reavie ($6300)
Chez Reavie having higher than normal ownership shouldn’t come as a shock this week, as he’s at the second cheapest price point and is coming off a T22. Reavie is a player that performs very well when making the cut, and with no cut to worry about he should be able to make a push on Moving Day. Reavie is strong off the tee with an 86.42% Good Drive percentage, and a very good accuracy number of 67.98%. He’s just under the elite tier in regards to accuracy, and will find himself in great approach spots this week.
Approaching the green is one of Reavie’s strong suits: his Proximity to the Hole has him in strong company, with an average of only 33’8″ away from the hole with his second shot. Even hitting it out of the rough, Reavie comes in with a PtH of 41’10” which is again a top-30 ranking. Reavie’s a very good ball-striker, avoids bogeys at an elite rate (15th on Tour last season), and should find a lot of success on par-3s and -4s. He’ll have some struggles on the greens, and needs to curb his 3-putts, but all told he makes a great play this week.
Reavie is projecting for a top-5 finish, but will need to score a bit more than normal to hit his projection.
TOTAL SALARY REMAINING: $9,750 per golfer.