CIMB: Best bets
Dave Tindall looks at the leading contenders and top wagers for this week's CIMB Classic in Malaysia
Last Updated: 25/10/12 3:09pm
Tiger Woods in action in Wednesday's practice round. He's the clear favourite this week
Tiger Woods heads the betting as 30 US Tour pros form part of a 48-man field for this week's CIMB Classic at the Mines Resort and Golf Club in Malaysia.
The top 10 players from the Asian Tour's Order of Merit and eight sponsors invites complete the line-up.
Althought a non-counting event this year, the tournament will be upgraded to an official Money List tournament in 2013, with the field expanded to 78 players and the purse to US$7 million.
The par 71 Mines Resort and Golf Club measures just 6,966 yards and offers birdies galore.
Last year's no-cut event was won with 23-under and moist greens suggest that could come under threat.
The market leaders (Sky Bet odds):
Tiger Woods (100/30): Despite his miserable results at the Ryder Cup, Tiger played some decent golf at times at Medinah and did so again when reaching the semis of the Turkish Airlines Golf Final two weeks ago. This is his first appearance in Malaysia since winning the team (with Mark O'Meara) and individual prize at the 1999 Word Cup. Three-time winner on the PGA Tour this year but hasn't managed a victory in his last eight strokeplay events.
Latest strokeplay form: 8-4-3-38
Course form: n/a
2012 Birdie Average rank: 4
World ranking: 2
Jason Dufner (15/2): Finished runner-up at last week's Perth International after emerging as Bo Van Pelt's only real challenger on the final day. That followed on from a strong Ryder Cup debut while a top 10 at this event last year and a top five placing in this year's Birdie Average stats suggest the laid-back club waggler should be a strong contender.
Latest strokeplay form: 2-20-28-18
Course form: 10
2012 Birdie Average rank: 5
World ranking: 9
Bo Van Pelt (8/1): Given his inability to get over the line, it's unusual to see BVP boast the double of being last week's winner and this week's defending champion. The 37-year-old played some excellent golf to triumph in Australia and says the key to his high-level consistency this year has been "huge improvement" in his putting (the stats show he's jumped from 144th in 2011 to 11th this year). Another birdie machine so deserves to be short in the betting.
Latest strokeplay form: 1-10-10-26
Course form: 1
2012 Birdie Average rank: 7
World ranking: 23
Nick Watney (16/1): Despite a win in the first FedEx Cup play-off event, The Barclays, Watney will still be disappointed with his season after failing to make the Ryder Cup team and not even managing a top 20 in the majors. However, a 10th place in Vegas last time suggests he could still finish the campaign strongly and he should enjoy being able to play target golf on this straightforward course.
Latest strokeplay form: 10-28-45-20
Course form: n/a
2012 Birdie Average rank: 56
World ranking: 22
Seung-Yul Noh (22/1): The young Korean has enjoyed a solid if unspectacular rookie season on the US Tour with 13 top 25s (and three top 10s) putting him 48th on the Money List. Has happy memories of Malaysia after winning the 2010 Malaysian Open (his first European Tour success) and finishing runner-up in the Johor Open that same year while he was sixth in the OneAsia Tour's Korea Open last Sunday.
Latest strokeplay form: 6-16-13-67
Course form: 36
2012 Birdie Average rank: 67
World ranking: 86
Jeff Overton (28/1): Still looking for his first PGA Tour win but he did show his game was suited to this week's course last year when finishing runner-up to Van Pelt. That included a second round 62 - "This golf course is so much fun to play," he said afterwards - so he's another American raider who can pour in the birdies.
Latest strokeplay form: 51-8-13-51
Course form: 2
2012 Birdie Average rank: 15
World ranking: 85
Ben Crane (28/1): The bald-headed American with the dry sense of humour won the inaugural CIMB Classic in 2010 with 18-under but was a disappointing 20th when defending last year. Crane hasn't managed a top 10 since May although he posted a third-round 62 in last week's McGladrey Classic and is high on both the 2012 eagle (5th) and birdie stats.
Latest strokeplay form: 27-41-MC-MC
Course form: 20-1
2012 Birdie Average rank: 11
World ranking: 72
Brendon de Jonge (28/1): On recent results the Zimbabwean must be a contender here having finished fourth at the McGladrey and runner-up in Las Vegas on his last two US Tour starts. Less appealing is his 31st in this limited field last year although he'd gone to Malaysia in poor form. Birdies are the requirement this week and no-one has made as many on the US Tour this year than de Jonge (410) although his average number per round spot is less flattering (35th).
Latest strokeplay form: 4-2-28-60
Course form: 31
2012 Birdie Average rank: 35
World ranking: 95
Best of the rest:
Jimmy Walker (33/1): The 33-year-old American finished like a train on his last start, shooting a final round 62 to almost snatch victory in the Frys.com Open. He was 10th the week before in Vegas while he was a decent tied 13th in this event last year. 30th in birdies and 16th in eagles this year.
Robert Garrigus (33/1): A three-time runner-up on the US Tour this year and can also boast two top 10s in his last three outings. This big hitter makes lots of birdies too (11th in Birdie Average) and carded a 61 in the Humana Challenge earlier this year. This is his first ever trip to Asia.
Scott Piercy (40/1): Another American who seems to have the ideal profile. Piercy was sixth in Las Vegas on his last start and his previous eight tournaments on the US Tour include a win and a third. Can shoot ultra-low and sits in the top 15 of both the birdie and eagle stats.
In two runnings of the CIMB Classic, only one Asian Tour player has managed to crack the top 10 (Mardan Mamat T5 in 2010) so expect this to be a carve-up between the Americans.
Woods, Dufner and Van Pelt are the three obvious market leaders and their respective positions of 4th, 5th and 7th in the 2012 Birdie Average stats only strengthen their claims further on a course where it should need something between -20 and -25 to win.
It's a rather inexact science but as Robert Garrigus has shot between those two figures in each of the last three seasons on the US Tour (Tiger hasn't managed it once), the big-hitting, and in-form, 34-year-old looks worth an each-way play at 33s.
With Sky Bet and other bookies paying out on just four places (always the case in a field of this size), there's not much room for another each-way punt if Woods, Dufner and Van Pelt play to potential.
However, Sky Bet are also betting without the front three and in the market with the trio of favourites taken out I like the look of Scott Piercy at 25/1.
He's fired a 61 and a 62 during his two recent Tour wins (Reno 2011 and this year's Canadian Open) and opened 64-62 when winning on the Nationwide Tour in 2008.
A sixth place on his last start in Vegas suggests he can strike again.
It may also pay to play Garrigus in this market too. With each-way terms of 1/4 1,2,3,4 it means we could collect even if he comes seventh.
Robert Garrigus in outright market at 33/1
Scott Piercy 'without Woods, Dufner, Van Pelt' at 25/1
Robert Garrigus 'without Woods, Dufner, Van Pelt' at 20/1