Top-heavy Classic one to avoid
Tiger Woods heads the betting for the CIMB Classic but while Ben Coley fancies him to take all the beating, he doesn't like the price.
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The third renewal of the CIMB Classic sees Tiger Woods head the betting from last week's runner-up Jason Dufner, and the man who beat him and defends this title, Bo Van Pelt.
Their presence and general single-figure prices underline that this limited-field tournament is very much top heavy in terms of quality.
It was a similar case last week in Perth, when surely nobody actually thought the likes of Michael Hendry and Emiliano Grillo would stay clear of the American quality for all four days despite exceptional starts.
And, in all likelihood, one of those three will win the title. Van Pelt seems at ease outside of the USA and is in sterling form, Dufner has an all-round game of such quality that, as was the case in Perth, he can turn up and compete anywhere, while this has been a happy hunting ground for Woods already.
True, his course form comes courtesy of the 1999 World Cup, but Woods was the lowest scoring player by some nine shots that week, carding 21-under par for his four rounds in leading America to victory alongside Mark O'Meara.
So, how do we approach it from a betting perspective? Many will go all-in on Woods and in a limited field that's not a bad policy. But when you consider that he was a similar price to win last year's Chevron World Challenge on a course he has an exceptional record on, with only 17 rivals to beat, it becomes clear that 100/30 is no gift.
That doesn't mean he won't win, but backing 5/1 chances at close to 3/1 will only spell long-term disaster and, after all, it's now nine starts since he last won. That's not a stat which indicates any great problems - he looked to be playing well in Turkey - but it is one that does put me off lumping on.
Looking at past results, there's only one way to take apart The Mines Resort & Golf Club, and that's make birdies in abundance.
Ben Crane and Bo Van Pelt both putted exceptionally en route to victory and that's going to be crucial with low scoring very likely, but other than them being past US Bank Championship winners I can't find anything else to tie them together, nor can I link them to 2003 Malaysian Open winner Arjun Atwal.
Leaderboards certainly back up the fact that length isn't really needed here - Atwal and Crane are among the PGA Tour's shorter hitters - and on a short par-71 expect to see Woods and many others hit two irons to the green.
Ultimately, it's an event which looks puzzlingly simple: those who have hot weeks with the putter will contend, but are likely to be beaten by either Woods, Van Pelt or Dufner.
Perhaps Brendon De Jonge, a player who makes birdies for fun, will find this a suitable opportunity to get the monkey off his back. But can he win if Tiger is stalking? Probably not.
Kevin Stadler is used to playing across the globe and showed some good form in the Playoffs, but while I'd be keen to side with him in matches I don't for a second think he'll win. Likewise, Kevin Na closed 67-67 here in 2010, has had a prep event in Asia and should go well, but even standout 50/1 quotes aren't enough.
The one who I'm interested to watch from a non-betting perspective is Noh Seung-Yul, who has put together back-to-back top-10 finishes in Asia and should be very competitive this week.
I'm eager to see him in contention again and it'd be great to watch him in the final group alongside Woods, but he's certainly not a 25/1 chance in my view so there's no temptation to back him.
So, for me at least, this isn't an event to bet on. There's probably value somewhere, but I expect it to be losing value and therefore can't recommend a bet.
If anything, it is a tournament best used for those who like to bet multiples across several events.
Kristoffer Broberg is around 6/1 to gain what would be a fifth win in seven Challenge Tour starts - a price which again suggests Woods is poor value - while Rory McIlroy will surely bring his A-game to Shanghai and the BMW Masters, one he won last year albeit from a vastly inferior field.
A treble on those two and Woods pays something in the region of 120/1, and stranger things have most certainly happened.
My advice therefore is to play a small stakes trixie (three doubles and a treble) if you want an interest for the weekend, but for serious punting purposes the CIMB Classic makes no appeal.