CIMB Classic Betting Guide: Is There Value in One Big Bet on Justin Thomas?
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Justin Thomas
- Justin Thomas is the headliner and small favorite (+500) to win the CIMB Classic, which tees off Thursday at TPC Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.
- See who I'm targeting for this weekend's small-field tournament, including a couple mid-tier guys and longshots.
The PGA Tour kicks off its three-stop Asian swing this week with the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
This is a small field event with no cut. Only 78 players make up the tournament field this week, including a few of the top Asian Tour players.
The field lacks star power, but two-time winner Justin Thomas will make the trip across the Pacific.
YTD: -3.77 units
TPC Kuala Lumpur is a really short and really easy track. It checks in at 7,005 yards for a par 72 — basically a pitch and putt for a lot of the longer hitters.
The scores reflect that with the winner reaching at least 23-under par in each of the last three years.
Water is the primary defense for this course, but it’s so short that players can usually club down to avoid any real trouble off the tee. The only way scoring can really get difficult is if the wind picks up a bit.
There’s a change to the green surfaces, too. Bermuda greens were installed this year, replacing the old Paspalum surface. Defending champion Pat Perez has won twice on Paspalum in two years after victories here in 2017 and in the 2016 OHL Classic in Mexico. That narrative around him is gone, and we’ll have to look for solid Bermuda putters with this course looking to replicate the greens at TPC Sawgrass.
Thomas is the headliner for this event and is about as small of a favorite as we’ll see heading into tournament, checking in at +500 at most books.
Thomas has won twice here and is coming off a great Ryder Cup. I don’t really bet favorites, but one big bet on Thomas to win isn’t the worst strategy. There’s no one in his class in this field.
Billy Horschel and Ryan Moore are next in line at +1400, but neither is really playable at that number. Horschel was playing well in the FedEx Cup, while Moore has a couple of wins here and lost in a playoff last week, but I don’t see either as a play sub-+2000.
Right behind them are Xander Schauffele and Paul Casey at +1600. Again, neither does much for me here. Bermuda is the one putting surface on which Schauffele loses strokes, while Casey doesn’t putt well enough for me to expect the 30 birdies that might be necessary to win on this course.
I’m also avoiding the +2000 range again, and like I did with last week’s Safeway Open, I’ll start my card with a player at +3000.
Brandt Snedeker was in control of the Safeway Open for about 63 holes. Even with two holes to play, he held the solo lead. Now his odds have increased by 50% from +2000 to +3000 this week.
Outside of Thomas, this field is weaker than the Safeway Open one. But Thomas alone shouldn’t be enough to decrease a player such as Snedeker’s chances that much. This course is very short, and it’s likely to be a putting contest over the weekend. Both of those things fit Sned’s game. I look at this field and the odds of the guys above Snedeker and I just don’t see that someone such as Horschel can be twice as likely to win this week.
They should all be in that same high-teen range, but Snedeker has slipped through the cracks here.
I like three names in this range but will be patient on the price.
C.T. Pan, Chez Reavie and Danny Lee all stick out to me on this course in the +4000 to +5000 range. But with their numbers all so close together on every site, I’ll be monitoring those three to see if any of them drifts to the +6000 number.
I mentioned why I like Snedeker, and we saw him win the Wyndham Championship just a couple months ago. Pan was right there with Snedeker until the 72nd hole, on another short-course birdie fest.
Reavie should fit here, too, but the putter is always a concern. When we need a guy to get to 20-under to have a chance, I’m not sure if he’s got the flat stick to get the job done. But if his number slides, I’ll be on him.
Lee has found his form and is usually better on shorter courses. The only concern is his putting on Bermuda, which tends to hang around field average, when he’s normally picking up strokes on the field on other surfaces.
I fully expect one or two of these guys to slide back, which will determine who makes my card from this trio.
One play I did lock in is Jimmy Walker at +8000.
Walker is a great putter and usually does his best work in weaker fields (outside of his 2016 PGA Championship win). Normally, I don’t bet Walker because we get this type of number in full-field events. But in a weak field with 60 PGA Tour players, I think he’s worth a look.
Finally, I’m backing Brian Gay to top 10 at +700. I don’t think he’ll win, but short courses that require good Bermuda putting are right in his wheelhouse.
We haven’t seen much in the longshot realm come through here since the tournament became an official event in 2013. Perez was the furthest down the board at +3500.
Despite that, I’ve found a couple players to toss darts at this week, starting with Andrew Putnam at 110-1 on MyBookie.
Putnam is another guy who seemed to slip through the cracks. He’s a strong iron player who plays well on courses that don’t force the driver. He also won in a weaker alternate field event at the Barracuda just a few months back. Like it does for most guys, it will come down to Putnam’s putter, but I think he’ll give himself enough birdie looks to have a chance this week.
I’m also going to the bottom of the board with Satoshi Kodaira at 300-1 and +800 to top 20. Kodaira won at Harbour Town, but then had an awful season afterward. That’s because his game just doesn’t fit most PGA Tour-style courses. He’s not a long guy, and he can’t overpower a course.
But this course won’t require a long driver. Kodaira has had a lot of success in Japan, so maybe getting back to Asia on a short course will suit his game. His game obviously can work on a certain course type at the PGA level, and I think this place will fit him as well as any on the schedule.
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CIMB Classic Card
- Brandt Snedeker +3000 (1.1 units)
- Jimmy Walker +8000 (.41 units)
- Andrew Putnam +11000 (.3 units)
- Chez Reavie +12500 (.17 units)
- Satoshi Kodaira +30000 (.11 units)
- Satoshi Kodaira top 20 +800 (1 unit)
- Brian Gay top 10 +700 (1 unit)
- Lee, Reavie and/or Pan to come
Total Stake: 3.92 units
Season: -3.77 units