Noh doubt there's R1 value

  • By: Ben Coley
  • Last Updated: October 23 2012, 13:32 BST

Our expert Ben Coley has three round one leader selections for this week's CIMB Classic in Malaysia.

Seung-Yul Noh: Looks set for a fast start

As I wrote in my outright preview, finding value in the CIMB Classic outright market is something I can't do.

But while one of Tiger Woods, Bo Van Pelt or Jason Dufner should eventually come out on top, taking them on in the first round leader betting looks a straightforward and solid policy.

It stands to reason that tournament favourites are priced as such due to the likelihood of their class advantage telling over four rounds, but that over one they can be outgunned by any one of their opponents.

And in this limited-field event, where we've got 50 runners to sift through as opposed to 150-plus, circumstances are just about ideal.

On this short, generous par-71, which requires a sub-20-under par total if a player has desires on lifting the trophy, birdies are going to be flying in. What we're looking for is therefore a streaky player capable of a 62, rather than one who might finish fifth thanks to four rounds of 66.

Top of my list is Seung-Yul Noh at 25/1.

The Korean was on my outright radar but while similar prices make no appeal there, they do in this market as I think he has all the qualities to fire the eight- or nine-under par round that may be required to set the early pace.

For starters, he's both in-form and acclimatised thanks to a pair of top-10 finishes over the last fortnight in Asia. It must be said that on neither occasion did he start well, but this is a totally different test and will have been his focus.

Secondly, he has very positive memories from past visits to this part of the world. In 2010, he out-battled his idol KJ Choi to win the Maybank Malaysian Open, while a year prior to that - aged just 17 - he fired an opening 62 to lead the same event after the first round on just his fourth European Tour start.

Later that year he finished 36th in the first edition of the CIMB Classic, with a third-round 65 confirming that he has the ability to go low at the course, and more recently he led the field after the first round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston.

He also tied for second after the first round of the Honda Classic, tied for fifth after round one of the Sony Open, and at eighth in total birdies on the PGA Tour this year he clearly has what it takes to go very low.

The other I like towards the head of the betting is Jimmy Walker and although at the bottom-end of my price range, 33/1 is just about good enough to take.

The Texan's last competitive round came in the Frys.com Open, when he shot 62 on a par-71 to leap up the leaderboard and for a time threaten to win the tournament.

Crucially, he put that improvement down to finding something on the range with his coach, who described his swing as 'looking really good' prior to the second round.

As such, it shouldn't surprise us that he improved his score each day throughout the event, in the process building some momentum for his last confirmed start in 2012.

Walker is a fine putter - he ranks 16th for the season in strokes gained putting, with only Van Pelt ahead of him from the PGA Tour players in this field - and combined with a swing he's now trusting that's a potentially dangerous combination.

While we have to go back to last year's Shell Houston Open for the last time Walker led after round one, twice in his last six tournaments he's shot 62. In addition, he opened with a bogey-free 66 here last year, and at third in total eagles this year and fourth in total birdies, again he fits the bill on paper.

Finally, I'm willing to chance Jbe Kruger at 100/1.

Despite gaining a first European Tour victory in February, it's been a largely disappointing year for the talented South African.

However, there are a couple of reasons to believe he could yet turn it around, chief of which is the form he produced at around this time last year.

Having missed a couple of cuts in the autumn, Kruger put together finishes of 23rd, 13th, ninth and 25th in November 2011, sitting sixth after the first round of the Barclays Singapore Open, tied for first after round one of the Alfred Dunhill Championship and repeating that feat a week later in the South African Open.

Clearly, he's able to remain motivated at this time of year, no doubt with forthcoming home events in mind, and he's also capable of shooting low numbers on day one.

Indeed, despite recent poor form, he did shoot 67 in the first round of the Portugal Masters last time, good for a share of fourth and therefore an each-way payout for backers.

The icing on the cake is that he closed with a bogey-free 65 here last year, and his prospects of topping the leaderboard come Thursday evening are surely better than 100/1.


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