CIMB Classic experts' picks

October, 23, 2012
Each week of the season, our experts will share their insights into which players fit the criteria for our four categories: Horse for the Course (a golfer who knows the track inside and out), Birdie Buster (a guy who could take it low this week), Super Sleeper (a player who could unexpectedly contend) and Winner.

This week's tournament: The CIMB Classic at The Mines Resort & Golf Club in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Horse for the Course

Michael Collins, senior golf analyst: Bo Van Pelt
The defending champion is coming off a victory last week in Australia, so he's already got a hot hand. Having won here last year by 6 strokes, including two rounds of 64, gives him a huge boost of confidence, knowing he can go low when he needs to.

Farrell Evans, senior golf writer: Bo Van Pelt
Not known for winning -- just one career PGA Tour victory -- the 37-year-old former Oklahoma State star birdied five of his last eight holes for a final-round 7-under-par 64 at The Mines Resort and Golf Club in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to win the 2011 CIMB Classic by 6 shots. After decimating the 47 other players in the field, it was easy to imagine Van Pelt becoming a dominant international player.

Bob Harig, senior golf writer: Ben Crane
He won the inaugural CIMB Classic in 2010 and shot 62 on Saturday at the McGladrey Classic. He did shoot four rounds in the 60s last year in Malaysia to tie for 20th.

Kevin Maguire, senior golf editor: Jeff Overton
The former Indiana Hoosier quietly owns four top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour and came in second last year at this event to Bo Van Pelt with rounds of 67-62-69-69.

Birdie Buster

Michael Collins: Tiger Woods
It's a 48-man field against guys like Gaganjeet Bhullar and Siddikur Rahman. If Tiger doesn't finish inside the top 10, he should never be allowed to play in the event again. Ever.

Farrell Evans: Brendon De Jonge
The 32-year-old Zimbabwean has had a second and a tie for fourth in his last two starts. In Las Vegas, De Jonge owned a share of the 54-hole lead and was tied with the eventual winner, Ryan Moore, on the 16th tee. But there at the par-5, Moore pulled ahead for good with a birdie. Yet if De Jonge continues to put himself in contention on Sundays, he's bound to get his first tour win soon.

Bob Harig: Bo Van Pelt
The defending champion is coming off an impressive victory at a European Tour event in Perth, Australia, which followed consecutive top-10s in his last two events on the PGA Tour.

Kevin Maguire: Jason Dufner
Dufner should be acclimated to the time change in Malaysia (12 hours difference from the East Coast of the U.S.) since he played last week in Australia. And he's clearly still in form after finishing second Down Under to Bo Van Pelt.

Super Sleeper

Michael Collins: Masanori Kobayashi
So I spoke to Keyser Soze and he told me that this man gave him a golf lesson and was not to be trifled with on the golf course. ("Usual Suspects" reference, for those of you who don't have a DVD player.) Hey, Kevin Spacey won an Oscar for his role and the real Kobayashi should be able to pull a top 10 easy. Or not.

Farrell Evans: Seung-Yul Noh
Sean Foley's least-famous student has a swing modeled on Hunter Mahan's, another Foley pupil. The 21-year-old South Korean has shown bursts of great promise this year with three top-10s, most notably a tie for fourth at the AT&T National in July.

Bob Harig: Thaworn Wiratchant
He has won three times this year on the Asian Tour, his latest at the Indian Open. The Thai native, who is 45, has nine top-10s this year on the Asian Tour, which sends 10 players from its money list to the CIMB Classic.

Kevin Maguire: Charlie Wi
One of the last guys into the field, Wi knows he's going to cash a decent check this week. Plus, he even has experience at The Mines Resort & Golf Club after finishing T-18 at this event in 2010.


Michael Collins: Jason Dufner
He did finish second last week to Bo Van Pelt in what I'll call a "warm-up." Dufner's only missed cut this year on tour was the first event of the year, and the last time he finished outside the top 30 was in July (T-31 at the Open Championship). He wins and Alabama takes the national title, which will make his wife happy.

Farrell Evans: Charlie Wi
The 40-year-old South Korean has won nine times in Asia, including twice in Malaysia. But he's never won on the PGA Tour, though he's had plenty of close calls. Wi has had five seconds in his career, most recently in February at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Bob Harig: Tiger Woods
His game is in good shape after having played the exhibition in Turkey two weeks ago. Ranked second in the world, he has a smaller field to beat. It is Woods' first time playing the event and his first time at an official tournament in Malaysia since 1999.

Kevin Maguire: Tiger Woods
The truth is, of the 48 golfers playing this week, you can scratch 12 off the list right away because they got into the field off the Asian Tour money list or as Malaysian qualifiers. That leaves Tiger with only 35 other guys to beat, and I'll take those odds any day.





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