Ok, maybe week 1 didn’t go quite as planned. Ya get knocked down, ya get back up again. Lets get it:
First, Congratulations to Brendan Steele for successfully defending his Safeway Title. Brendan fired a final round 69 to wrestle victory from the hands of Tony Finau at 15-under-par. Chesson Hadley and Phil Mickelson tied for Third place, three strokes back. And Canadian Graham Delaet split Fifth place with Tyler Duncan at 11-under.
I’ll move onto THIS week in a minute, but first, prayers out to those in Napa affected by the wildfires. Just hours after the Tournament ended, photos such as this one were taken of the damage done to the course and surrounding area. Scary stuff.
And one last thing. From a literal fire, to what’s been a tire fire for the last few years…
Tiger Woods! (Just kidding, I love you Tiger)
Tiger has now upgraded from chipping and putting with Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler, to taking full swings.
First he posted a slow-mo video of a short-iron shot.
And yesterday, he took part in a clinic with Kevin Chappell for the Tiger Woods Foundation
Hopefully a sign of good things to come, but I’ve been let down too many times to start thinking about Tiger “Making Sundays Great Again”
On to this week: The Tour has made its way to Malaysia for the CIMB Classic at TPC Kuala Lumpur. A 7,005 Yards, Par-72 Track with a couple of easy par-5’s. There will be no cut this week, as the limited field includes just 78 players. 29 guys have made their way over from last weeks Safeway Open
Justin Thomas comes in as the clear favourite. Not only fresh off PGA Tour Player of the Year and winning the FedEx Cup, Justin will tee it up this week as the two-time Defending Champ at TPC Kuala Lumpur. JT is 2-for-2 here and looks to go 3-for-3
Challenging him will be (among others) the likes of:
- Hideki Matsuyama, Xander Schauffele, Paul Casey, Charl Schwartzel, Ian Poulter and Thomas Pieters
As for Canadians? There are Four in the field: Richard T. Lee, Adam Hadwin, Graham DeLaet and Nick Taylor
Correlating Stats this week
As host to this event for several years, we are fortunate to be able to dig through stats and narrow down the field significantly. With Four Par-5’s this week there will be a premium on those who play the 5’s well, but the biggest stand out factor this week will be Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green. Historically, no stat has been a better predictor of success at this event, and I see this year being no different. Aside from that, I always like to weigh Birdies and DK Pts. And this week I will also be looking at (With smaller weighting) Scoring on Par-4’s 400-450 Yards, Strokes Gained: Approach, and Strokes Gained: Putting. My weighting is as follows:
SG: T2G = 35%
DK Pts & Birdies = 15% each
SG: Approach, SG: Par-5’s & SG: Par-4’s 400-450= 10% Each
SG: Putting = 5%
Once those were punched in, I always compare with Recent Form and Course History.
So finally, with all of that plugged in, I removed players I didnt deem necessary this week, and narrowed the field to 23 players. Here they are, Tier-by-Tier
As you can see, the bulk of field fits into the “Mid-Tier” Category (Between $7000 & $8000). With 43 players there, you will really make or break your lineups with selections from this Tier. Lets go top to bottom
Double Digits (Over $10,000)
- All Three Players are worthy of Ownership. Taking Justin Thomas at $12,300 will severely limit your options with the rest of the lineup however. My Tier 1 pick would be Paul Casey, but you cant deny JT’s record lately and at this course
Top Tier ($9999 to $8000)
- I like about half of the guys here. My Top play would be Brendan Steele. He is in good recent form, combined with Good Course History and Being atop my Stats Rankings. I also like Gary Woodland quite a bit
Mid-Tier ($7999 to $7000)
- This is the bulk of the field and will make-or-break your lineups. Of the 43 Players in this category I like 11 of them. My top play is Stewart Cink
Bargains (Under $7000)
- There are 17 players here, but really I only like two of them. With one or both of these guys in your lineup you’ll have room to fit in a Matsuyama or JT. Hudson Swafford and Sung Kang should do enough to at least not ruin your lineups
Remember, NO CUT this week, so everyone will play Four Rounds. My optimal lineup is as follows:
- Brendan Steele $8300
- Stewart Cink $7000
- Gary Woodland $8700
- Chez Reavie $7600
- Bud Cauley $7600
- Paul Casey $10500
Good luck! Let me know any feedback. Follow me on Twitter @RJMcCullough and Subscribe to My Podcast “Teeing Off” on Soundcloud and Itunes