Thompson cracks CIMB Classic field

Nicholas Thompson missed qualifying for the FedEx Cup playoffs by one point last year. He finished at No. 125 on the PGA Tour money list by $725 and only kept his full card for this season because the tour used the top 125 from the money list for the last time.

So what does that get him?

A trip to Kuala Lumpur next week for a $7 million tournament with no cut for the 78-man field.

The CIMB Classic, the first part of the two-event Asian swing, is for the top available players from the final FedEx Cup standings last year, the top 10 from Asian Tour Order of Merit and eight sponsor exempts. And if needed, the field is filled by additional players from the FedEx Cup.

Exactly why the tournament had to go so deep into the FedEx Cup is not entirely clear, although there are a few theories, starting with the schedule. A year ago, the Asian swing was the third event on the schedule after two tournaments on the West Coast. Now the McGladrey Classic is the third event, preceding Malaysia.

There also is another tournament from which players can choose. The Sanderson Farms Championship in Mississippi, which previously was held opposite the British Open, now is the same week as the HSBC Champions in Shanghai. That option wasn't available last year.

It's worth nothing that CIMB used to offer players two business-class tickets on Air Malaysia -- typically one for the player, one for his caddie -- and that perk has been reduced to one ticket this year.

Among those going to Malaysia is Kevin Chappell, who would have made the field easily at No. 55.

"It worked well with my schedule," Chappell said from Sea Island. "My goal was to play in the fall, but not play too many in a row. And obviously, the perks are good. They run a great golf tournament. You get police escorts to and from the golf course. It's a first-class event. Yes, it's a long way to go, but I really do like it."

Carlos Ortiz of Mexico decided to play Malaysia primarily because with a short field he is guaranteed points.

Tim Wilkinson (No. 119), Brice Garnett (121) and James Hahn (123) also are in the field.

The CIMB Classic next season will go back to being held after the opening two events on the West Coast, and perhaps the tour won't have to go so deep in the standings to fill the field. Or maybe it will.

"I think the wraparound season is a little bit more known now," Chappell said. "Guys might feel comfortable taking time off and not playing an event."