The World Nos 3 and 4 golfers, Hideki Matsuyama and Justin Thomas, will head the field when the week-old 2017/18 US PGA Tour stops off in Malaysia this week for the Cimb Classic and the start of its Asian swing.
Before the month is out the Tour will make a second stop in South Korea for its first-ever CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges event on Jeju Island and will then make its third stop in China for the WGC-HSBC Champions at the Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai,
Thomas, the FedEx Cup Champion and US PGA Tour Player of the year for the 2016/17 season just ended, is also the Cimb Classic's defending champion and strong favourite after winning his maiden Tour title here in this event in 2015 and then repeating the feat last year.
The British bookmakers have, quite rightly, given the 24-year-old Kentucky young gun odds of 4/1 with Japan's Matsuyama some distance back at 9/1, England's Paul Casey at 12/1 and, at 25/1, Xander Schauffele, the unheralded US rookie who stunned world golf by winning the Tour Championship in a battle that included Thomas, the World Nos 1 and 2, Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth and a host of other world-class hot-shots.
Thomas ripped apart the relatively short 7,005-yard, par-72 TPC Kuala Lumpur course in both his Cimb Classic victories, shooting a 26-under 262 in 2015 and a 23-under 265 last year.
And, in the kind of form he has been in all year, anyone wishing to beat him this time around is going to have to do the same thing with accurate irons and a hot putter almost certainly being the clubs that make the difference.
Matsuyama has been struggling in the last month or two to find the form that not too long ago brought him that string of worldwide victories that has lifted him as high as they have on the World Ranking list and right now a better bet to stop Thomas winning the Cimb Classic for a 3rd straight time may be Casey who has been knocking on the door to a PGA Tour victory for some time now and might just see it opened in Malaysia.
Casey is one of the few European golfers who has stuck with the US Tour this week instead of crossing the Atlantic Ocean as others like Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia have done to play in the upgraded Italian Open and enter the Race to Dubai as it heads towards its climax in the Emirates in mid-November.
Joining Casey at TPC Kaula Lumpur is fellow Englishman Ian Poulter and Belgium's Thomas Pieters, both of whom could also be up with the front runners coming down the final stretch on Sunday.
Mind you, I wouldn't be at all surprised if, once more, Thomas is the man the front runners are pursuing for yes, he's that good and clearly he has a great affinity for TPC Kuala Lumpur.
(Tuesday am, Oct 10, 2017)
Justin Thomas 4/1
Hideki Matsuyama 9/1
Paul Casey 12/1
Xander Schauffele 25/1
Anirban Lahiri 28/1
Brendan Steele 28/1
Gary Woodland 30/1
Kevin Na 33/1
Ian Poulter 28/1
Charl Schwartzel 28/1
Branden Grace 35/1
Rafael Cabrera Bello 40/1
Thomas Pieters 35/1
Scott Piercy 45/1
Bud Cauley 40/1
Graham Delaet 40/1
Pat Perez 35/1
Chez Reavie 45/1
Jason Dufner 50/1
James Hahn 50/1
Cameron Smith 55/1
Emiliano Grillo 55/1.
NOTE: For all the latest odds, go to www.oddschecker.com/golf/cimb-classic/winner.
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