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Sobel’s CIMB Classic Preview: The 90-1 Longshot Who Said ‘Watch Out for Me in Malaysia’

Oct 10, 2018 12:00 AM EDT

USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Brendan Steele

  • The CIMB Classic gets underway at TPC Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia on Oct. 11-14.
  • At 5-1 betting odds, Justin Thomas, a two-time winner of the event, is the clear favorite.
  • He's followed by Billy Horschel (14-1), Ryan Moore (15-1), Xander Schauffele (17-1) and Paul Casey (19-1).

Let’s begin this week’s column with an inherent frustration with betting on sports.

There are times — and for some of us, they happen wayyy too often — when you get everything right, except the final result. You crunch the numbers, you examine the trends, you follow your theories — and it’s all correct.

Except, of course, the combination doesn’t cash a ticket.

For example, you might’ve looked at the New York Giants game against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday and thought: The road team is due for an upset, their playmakers should step up and I like them to pull out a victory in the end.

And so, you bet the Giants on the moneyline for a nice potential payday, watching the game unfold as everything you predicted goes according to plan.

That is, until the Panthers kick a 63-yard field goal with no time left to win the game.

You weren’t necessarily wrong about all the research and your hunch, but that consolation prize won’t help your bankroll since you were wrong about the final score.

These bad beats can happen in golf, too.

Last week, I wrote a preview of the Safeway Open in which I surmised that the tourney was ripe for a talented up-and-comer to finally claim an elusive first victory.

I wrote about Peter Uihlein. Jamie Lovemark. Luke List.

All of those guys fit the model for the kind of player I believed would win that tournament.

As it turns out, the idea was dead-on.

Only problem? None of those guys actually won.

Instead, it was Kevin Tway, another young player who fit the archetype of who I considered for the tournament.

So close, yet so, so, so, soooo far away.

The thing about golf, though, is that the never-ending schedule perpetually offers the opportunity to atone for our mistakes.

This week, the PGA Tour travels to Malaysia for the CIMB Classic at TPC Kuala Lumpur (yes, that’s really the name), where two players have recently backed up their first title here with another one.

Justin Thomas owns two wins in three starts here — and with him having just 5-1 odds, methinks the books have caught on to the fact that he’s the most talented player on a track he crushes.

Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Justin Thomas.

I don’t like ever like betting a player at 5-1 pre-tournament, so as much as I like Thomas this week, I’ll be fading him.

Same goes for Ryan Moore, who “celebrated” his playoff loss at last week’s Safeway Open by hopping on the longest flight of the year. With two wins here, he obviously likes this course, but his tank is very likely running on fumes this week.

Instead, let’s try to find some value among the humidity in what is always the stickiest event of the year.


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