Schauffele can end near misses in CIMB Classic
TPC Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
XANDER Schauffele endured a frustrating 12 months after securing Rookie of the Year honours by winning the 2017 Tour Championship, but he can put that behind him by winning the CIMB Classic on the newly-upgraded West course at TPC Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.
The 24-year-old Californian came within a whisker of a Ryder Cup debut after a series of near-misses – he was runner-up in The Open and the Players Championship in addition to being sixth in the US Open.
Schauffele, who also won the Greenbrier Classic in his rookie year, finished 15th in the FedExCup by closing his season with a tie for third in the BMW Championship and a tie for seventh in his Tour Championship.
So he is in the right frame of mind to get back to winning ways especially as he finished tied third in Kuala Lumpur last year when Pat Perez won by four strokes from Keegan Bradley.
After ending a six-year drought by winning the BMW Championship, the likelihood is that Bradley will contend again – he was also sixth in 2016 – for the ninth edition of what is the sole PGA Tour-sanctioned event in South East Asia.
Justin Thomas certainly enjoys this part of the world because in 2015 he made the CIMB Classic the first of his nine PGA Tour titles and successfully defended the title, so the 2017 FedExCup winner is bidding for a third triumph in four years.
Japanese number one Hideki Matsuyama earns his place in the staking plan courtesy of being runnerup in 2016 with fifth place finishes in 2015 and 2017.
Thailand powerhouse Kiradech Aphibarnrat, winner of five international titles, finished tied third in the CIMB Classic in 2013 when the event was first played at TPC Kuala Lumpur and with five top tens in 41 PGA Tour starts he is climbing the World Rankings.
Close to Ryder Cup call: Xander Schauffele