Ryan Moore defeated Gary Woodland in a one-hole playoff to win the CIMB Classic at the Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club in Malaysia early Monday morning. After a Sunday of delays, stops and starts, Moore and Woodland eventually ran out of daylight and were forced to comeback on Monday to find a champion. Both players posted 14-under-par 274 to separate themselves from Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Chris Stroud by one shot.
Moore began the week with 10 birdies and a course-record 63 on Thursday and his 25th birdie of the week, a three-footer on the first playoff hole, won him the tournament on Monday. Moore was very steady for the week as he navigated 10 bogeys to post 14-under with Woodland. Moore’s accuracy off the tee (T12 fairways hit) wasn’t surprising but his it was his superb iron play (T8 GIR) and putting (second) that secured his third TOUR win and his second in a playoff. He defeated Jason Bohn and Kevin Stadler at the 2009 Wyndham Championship for his first-career victory. His other victory came this time last in year in his hometown of Las Vegas.
At 30 years of age, Moore has now won twice in 54 weeks and is starting to show gamers what they’ve been waiting for since his ballyhooed arrival on to the TOUR 211 events ago. Just to put things in perspective, Woodland is 29 and has played 100 events. Moore is one year older and has played 211. He’s cracked the top 10 a very respectable 40 times. Last season, with kid No. 1 in tow, Moore saw the weekend in 16 of 22 events but only mustered three top 10s. He’s been a streaky player in the past (see: 2012) and his streak came to fruition this week as well as his victory completed a three-tournament run of T11 (BMW) and T9 in Las Vegas last week. Moore made $1.49 million in 2013. He’s now made $1.4 in two events in 2013-14. He’s happy. His wife is happy. Salary gamers are happy. Weekly gamers are happy. No malaise in Malaysia!
Looking forward, Moore will gain plenty of points to add to his No. 45 OWGR so he’ll be comfortably in all the majors/major events of 2013-14. The questions that gamers will ask is can he carry this play over to the major events. He hasn’t had a top 25 in a major since the 2010 Masters. His three wins have come in the fall when the TOUR is between seasons and at Sedgefield the week before the FedExCup Playoffs. I like that he keeps his golf ball in play off the tee box and his putter looks like it’s back to the old form that saw him finish sixth in total putting in 2011 and 18th in 2012. He was 115th last year. Any guesses to why he had his worst year in a while?
With this victory, Moore collects $1,260,000 and 500 FedExCup points and is now 2-1 in playoffs.
Déjà vu All Over Again?
After winning 31 of 40 tournaments in 2013, the USA is now three out of three in 2013-14 as American Ryan Moore joins Jimmy Walker and Webb Simpson as the winners in this new season.
There were 12, first-time winners in the 2013 season and just six players with multiple victories (Woods, Mickelson, Kuchar, Snedeker, Scott and Stenson). In 2013-14, we now have a first-timer and two young studs through the first three events.
Only 17 of the 38, 54-hole leaders went on to win last year in full-field, stroke play events. This season, Webb Simpson and Ryan Moore made the lead stand up on Sunday. Chris Stroud is excused this week because he was co-leader with winner Moore.
Since this was the first PGA TOUR event on this course, there are not any trends to match up. We’ll need to remember for 2014 that all four rounds were played with lift, clean and replace in closely-mown areas. The other comment/quote that I’ll file away as well is that Phil Mickelson said you cannot play this golf course from the rough. That means solid ball-striking should be on the cards. Moore showed that a well-rounded week, just like usual, wins on TOUR as he was T12 in driving accuracy, T8 in GIR and second in putts per GIR.
This is the part of the column where I list the winners and their age. Jimmy Walker (34) put the “Prime” guys on the board in the first week, 28-year-old Simpson chalks it up for the “Young Guns” last week and 30-year old Moore cashes win No. 2 for the “Prime” guys. The “old folks” had to scroll all the way down to 40-year-old Stewart Cink at T11 for their best finisher. No Jason Bohn to bail them out this week!
What I learned from the finishers in the top 10
Gary Woodland: Bittersweet for Ol’ Glass this week as he had Woodland in the OAD at Frys.com and the big boy from Kansas fired 71-75 for the perfect start to my season. On his second start of the season he racked up 22 birdies to just six bogeys and a double and had a putt to win on the 72nd hole. Not a bad turnaround. Woodland was no slouch this week either as he was T21 in fairways, T4 in GIR and T6 in putting. He’s made 21 of his last 22 cuts and has been on fire since August. His strength is his strength and he hits plenty of GIR. Butch Harmon has been working on his short game and if his putter cooperates, like it did this week, he’s going to be involved in the conversation. He said he’s taking the next four weeks off so you’ll have to be patient to get him into your lineup.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat: He led the “horse-for-course” section in the preview column and he didn’t let me down in the GolfChannel.com game in Group 2. He’s now played this course in five tournament settings and has a win and two thirds. That’s impossible to ignore regardless of which TOUR was playing it and how it was set up. Still don’t believe me? Well, he made four bogeys on the week. Four. He led the field in GIR and was T2 in fairways. Imagine if he could hole a putt or two! He’s the Thai Graham DeLaet! This was only his fourth PGA TOUR event for the 24-year-old. He’s won twice on the Asian Tour and once on the European Tour (2013 Maybank Malaysian Open on this course). He also won two Junior World Championships in 2003 and 2004 so he progressing along nicely. His career took a major step this week and his confidence should be around an all-time high as well even though he couldn’t find an extra birdie in his final 12 holes. He will add the Asian Tour Order of Merit to his CV after his T3 this week. If he wasn’t on your radar he needs to be now.
Chris Stroud: After making only three bogeys in the first three rounds, Stroud, the co-54-hole leader with Ryan Moore, made two bogeys and a double on Sunday to finish T3. Looks like I was event late with Stroud as I had featured him at the Frys.com where he limped home with a MC. He bounced back this week on the back of decent ball striking (12th in accuracy; 20th GIR) and his putter, his usual weapon of choice, was working. Stroud is still looking for his first title but is coming off a career-best 2013 where he made over $1.6 million. His T3 this week was his best finish since he fell in a playoff to Ken Duke at the Travelers last June. He’s trending in the right direction and he’s played 26, 28 and 28 events the last three years so he’s must-have in season-long games.
Aaron Baddeley: Another player who MC at Frys.com, Baddeley has now hit the top 10 in two of his last six starts with his solo fifth this week. He MC in three others and racked up a T43 in the fourth. After a disappointing 2013 where he missed 14 of 24 cuts, the Aussie should have some confidence moving forward, at least on the greens. He was 77th of 78players this week in driving accuracy so all cylinders are not firing yet but he still managed to make only six bogeys and nothing worse than that. Moving forward, I’m on the fence until I see a vein of form instead of a nice 66 on Sunday. This was Baddeley’s best performance since his solo fourth at Pebble Beach in 2012.
Jimmy Walker: Wash. Rinse. Repeat. He only made four bogeys on the week but it will be the two DOUBLES he made in his final 10 holes on Thursday that will keep him saying to himself, “what if?” It’s great to see that Walker is making the next step after his victory by competing week in and week out. He backed up his first win at Frys.com with T12 last week in Vegas and his solo sixth this week continues this excellent play. The other part I liked about his game this week was the normally excellent putter made NOTHING this week but found a way to grind out another top 10. DYNOMITE!
Charles Howell III: If it’s early season that means Charley Three Sticks will be peppering the first page of the leaderboard. He now has 10 of his first 12 rounds of the new season at 70 or better as his T7 backs up his T5 last week at the Shriners. CH III keeps a pretty simple formula. He hits it long, hits a bunch of greens and makes a bunch of putts. This week his putter was struggling but he made up for it with solid ball-striking. These back-to-back top 10s are his first since his T10 at Wells Fargo in early May. Better jump on board while he’s hot!
Harris English: After making 21 of 26 cuts and picking up his first win, 2013 was nowhere near a “sophomore slump” for the big man from UGA. His T7 this week was his first top 10 since his maiden victory last June at the FESJC. He made four bogeys on Thursday but only four more bogeys the final three days. The normally excellent putter finished 66th of 78 players but he was T2 in GIR.
Graham DeLaet: The Canadian disappointed gamers last week with his MC on an easy track in Las Vegas but normal service was restored this week with T7. His putting numbers were better than his ball-striking numbers and that was evidenced in his 21 birdies, good for third most this week. He had to eat two doubles on the week, and his bogey-double-par-par finish on Sunday kept him out of the top five. Expectations are a little different for DeLaet after his excellent 2013.
Keegan Bradley: After bringing this track to its knees after 36 holes, Bradley remarked he couldn’t have played any better. It’s quite difficult to keep that up for four consecutive days and Bradley showed that he is human. His 65-66 opening rounds were backed by 76-72 on the weekend as he finished 10th. He’ll be happy to get away from the back nine on this track as he played it in SEVEN-OVER on the weekend. That’s the disappointing part for gamers but it’s his best finish on TOUR since T2 in Akron. He’s made over three million dollars the last two seasons. I see no reason why this won’t continue in 2013-14. Big stretch, I know!
Catching up on those who looked oh-so-good on Tuesday afternoon…
Phil Mickelson: He’s the best quote on TOUR and he was in fine form this week as he remarked he had no idea where his golf ball was going off the tee. He also suggested that one could not play this course from the rough. And this was all after stating that this would be a tough week because of the rough around the greens. Did you get all of that? Mickelson finished the week 76th of 78 players in driving accuracy and right in the middle of the putting stats. He only made 15 birdies on this par-72 layout which is hard to fathom. Racking up three doubles didn’t help anything either. His T19 was below expectations this week but he’s knocked the rust off heading to China.
Sergio Garcia: The Spaniards excellent play continued this week as he backed up his last three performances (T4, T18 and T9) with T11 this week. The part that I liked was his solid putting continued as he finished the week 16th in putts per GIR. We all know his ball-striking will be there but if his putting continues to stay well above average, I would expect big things from Garcia this season.
Keegan Bradley: T10, see above.
Hideki Matsuyama: Ho-hum, another week, another top 25 as he finished the weekend 72-74, T25. Here’s what you like about the kid: He made back-to-back doubles on Saturday but then he birdied three of the next four to salvage his round. That tells me he’s in a good place mentally. He made 19 birdies and finished T25.
Jimmy Walker: Finished sixth; see above
Nick Watney: He hit plenty of greens but it was his putter, his Achilles Heel, which led to his struggles this week. He also had two rounds over par which will never move you up the leaderboard. He now has four of eight rounds in the last two weeks that are 73 or worse. Buyer beware.
Bill Haas: After his monster 2013, Haas gets off to a solid start in 2013-2014 with T16 this week. When he’s made the cut, he’s not been worse than T28 since LAST MARCH. That’s a span of 19 events. That’s legit.
Ernie Els: Here’s proof that acclimatization can mean absolutely nothing. Els made TEN birdies in four rounds but did rack up the most pars, 52, on the week. His T47 also included only six bogeys but it was a quad and two doubles that ruined his week.
Jeff Overton: He’s now opened 2013-2014 T16, T9 and T16 after closing with two-under 70 on Sunday. Overton had another solid showing thanks in part to solid iron play and steady putting. He only has one round over par in 12 to start the new season and he’s already made half of his 2013 total money in the first three events of 2013-2014.
And the analysis doesn't end here. Rotoworld's Rob Bolton and I will be co-hosting a one-hour live chat WEDNESDAY at NOON ET. We will be breaking down the field at the WGC-HSBC Champions and answering your questions. Simply return to the golf home page to join in on the chatter. Don’t forget to follow Rob (https://twitter.com/RobBoltonGolf) and Glass (https://twitter.com/mikeglasscott) on Twitter.