The fall season has long been known as a place where fringe players can save their seasons and where good players can grab easy wins. Well, nothing is easy on the PGA Tour, but you get the point. Two weeks into the carry-over-season experiment and it seems as though good players are taking full advantage of the fall season - just like they were before. Two weeks ago it was Jimmy Walker, considered by most to be a quality player, who took advantage of the watered-down field, this week it was Webb Simpson. Although Simpson is much more accomplished than Walker, both players needed a win. For Walker, it was about breaking through for the first time, which is always big, but for Simpson, it was about getting the monkey off his back, which is often just as big. You see, for as well as Simpson has played the last 18 months or so, he hadn't actually won anything since the U.S. Open in 2012. As many golfers can attest, that first major is huge, but the pressure can build somewhat after that win if you don't back it up in a timely manner. For Simpson, it was nearly a season-and-a-half before backing it up. Now he can relax for a bit and maybe the wins will come easier. The fall season may not be as exciting as the regular season, but to the guys who choose to participate, it sure pays off.
This week: CIMB Classic
Course: Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Last Year: Nick Watney shot a final-round 61 on his way to a one-stroke victory over Robert Garrigus and Bo Van Pelt.
Players to Consider:
Bo Van Pelt
Van Pelt did not have a great 2013 season, but he has a great shot at starting the 2014 season off in style. Van Pelt finished runner-up at this event in 2012 and won this event in 2011. Although a new course is in play this week, Van Pelt should still be in the mix as he's shown an ability to play well in the Malaysian climate.
One thing to consider this week is how some of these guys will travel. This event is held in Malaysia and some guys just aren't used to traveling so far to play golf. Mickelson should have no issue with that, however, as he's been traveling the globe for quite a while.
Much like the British Open, you have to open up your mind to players you wouldn't take normally. Aphibarnrat is a solid player who started to show some game last season at the majors and has won in Malaysia before, so he's got that going for him.
Jeev Milkha Singh
Long known as the "other Singh," Jeev Milkha is probably the better Singh now, but he hasn't been able to get over the hump in terms of his play during PGA Tour events. Perhaps this is the week as he seems comfortable playing in this country.
Just like Webb Simpson, Bradley failed to pick up a win during the 2013 regular season, and although Bradley has already backed-up his major win, he's probably getting a little frustrated at his inability to win the last 14 months. Look for a focused Bradley to be in contention this week.
Players to Avoid:
Nothing against Matsuyama's game, but he was forced to withdraw last week because he got ill. I'm no doctor, but traveling a long distance while your sick doesn't seem like a great way to get healthy. Perhaps he's had enough time to recover, perhaps not, but if he's not 100 percent healthy, he'll struggle in the heat this week.
Reed is off to a rough start this season with a withdrawal and missed cut in two starts. In fact, Reed has struggled since his win last August at the Wyndham Championship. Reed has failed to crack the Top 50 in his five starts since that victory.
Something about a guy from Canada golfing in the Malaysian heat doesn't seem right. OK, so there's a little more too it than that. DeLaet did miss the cut last week, so perhaps his run of solid golf the last couple months is up for now.
Goosen was on the "Avoid" list last week, but he withdrew, so we'll give him another shot this week. I wrote last week that Goosen hasn't shown his best form in quite awhile, and while he's bound to get back to top form at some point, it probably won't be anytime soon.
Sabbatini again finds himself on the "Avoid" list, and I dare say he'll stay here until he can make a cut. Last week he not only missed the cut, but he missed it by a country mile as he closed with a 78 on Friday at the Shriners.