After starting the 2018-19 season last week in Napa, Calif., the PGA Tour has made the long haul to Asia for the next three weeks for the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in Korea and the WGC-HSBC Champions in China.
At the first stop – the CIMB Classic – Pat Perez returns as the defending champion. But Justin Thomas is also there. Thomas captured the first two of his nine PGA Tour victories at the CIMB Classic in 2016 and 2017.
So, who are the players to watch this week?
We have two caddies on the ground at TPC Kuala Lumpur, who have offered up their three respective favorites for this week. To protect their identity, the caddies have made their three picks anonymously.
Here’s who they like and why…
- Justin Thomas, “Justin has fared extremely well here in the past, knocking off his first two PGA Tour victories on this course. It’s usually a soft track, which favors his length.”
- Xander Schauffele, “I think Xander has a lot to prove coming off not getting picked for Ryder Cup. That will provide some added motivation, for sure.”
- Gary Woodland, “Gary is another bomber who drives it great. He’s really coming into his own as a prominent player. He also lost in a playoff here in 2014, so he knows how to get it around this track.”
- Xander Schauffele, “After winning the Rookie of the Year award a year ago and winning the Tour Championship, Xander had an excellent sophomore campaign. He might be feeling a little bit snubbed about missing out on that captain’s pick at the Ryder Cup. In his first start here in Malaysia last season, he tied for third. He’s got good vibes here.”
- Austin Cook, “Austin just missed out on the Tour Championship last season and that has him extra motivated for this season. He showed last season that he plays well this time of year, evidenced by his win at the RSM Classic. This will be his first start at the CIMB Classic. The CIMB is a no-cut event, but it is worth noting Austin’s form since June – he didn’t miss a cut in his last eight Tour events.”
- Justin Thomas, “A two-time winner at the CIMB and one of the few bright spots for the U.S. Ryder Cup team in Paris. Justin is always ready to go.”