Schauf­fele can end near misses in CIMB Clas­sic

TPC Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The Racing Paper - - Golf Formula One - by Mitchell Platts

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

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