The 2018-2019 PGA season is underway as play continues in Malaysia for the CIMB Classic. The small field and generous scoring conditions present career-changing opportunities for players.
When you think of PGA Tour golf, your mind likely conjures images of TPC Sawgrass or courses along the California coast. You probably don’t think of Malaysia. But for many Tour pros, if not Kent Brockman, Kuala Lumpur is a familiar fixture of the Fall season.
The CIMB Classic is an enticing event that’s well worth the trip for players willing to take on the travel. The tournament hosts a limited field of 78 players, making it a no-cut event where even the last place finisher walks away with a small bump up the money list. Without the pressure of missing the weekend, players can attack the course, making an aggressive bid for low numbers and an early jump up the FedEx Cup standings.
The tournament can be an especially lucrative experience for young players looking to establish themselves on tour. Take Shubhankar Sharma and Bronson Burgoon, two guys with the skills and alliteration to become household names still looking for their first PGA Tour victory.
Through 36 holes they’re both within striking distance of a career-changing victory. Should either walk away as this weekend’s champion, they’ll leave Malaysia with a seven-digit paycheck, an invitation to the Masters and enough confidence to last the rest of the year.
Confidence is another major draw for players this week. The last three winning scores in Kuala Lumpur have been 24, 23 and 26 under par. Could Gary Woodland shoot an 11 under 61 in his sleep? No, but he shot one while you slept last night. Of the 78 players in the field, only eight are over par through 36 holes. Most of the field will leave feeling good about seeing putts go in the hole and red figures on the scorecard, and that can pay psychological dividends later in the season.
While many of the top players sit out the early tournaments, there’s still plenty on the line for those who choose to grind it out. With young stars like Sharma and established names like Justin Thomas and Billy Horschel in contention, the CIMB Classic is shaping up for a strong finish.