This year the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, opens with a whole new status. Because the PGA Tour has adopted its new wraparound schedule that began two weeks ago with the Frys.com Open in Califronia, the Tour has conceded that a PGA Tour tournament is a PGA Tour tournament and, as such, should be awarded all the embellishments that go with that.
Not only is there a substantial bump in the purse from $6.1 million to $7.0 million, there are also 500 FedExCup points awarded to the winner. Instead of being an unofficial event, it’s now an official event that awards the winner: a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour, an invitation to the Masters, the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Maui, the PGA Championship and the Players Championship and six other invitationals. And the invitational has been increased from 40 players to 78.
The other increase in prestige is that it bumps up against next week’s WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, China, as it always has, but because it comes with all the spiffs of a regular Tour event, the players will use it as a convenient tuneup for Shanghai.
The field this week is impressive. Thirteen players who advanced to the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola thus finishing in the top 30 in the FedExCup standings: Graham DeLaet (8), Phil Mickelson (9), Nick Watney (15), Billy Horschel (16),Keegan Bradley (18), Roberto Castro (21), Sergio Garcia (22), Gary Woodland (23), Bill Haas (24), Kevin Streelman (25), Brendon de Jonge (26), Boo Weekley (29) and D.A. Points (30).
In addition to that, 19 of the top 50 in the world are in attendance as are seven players from the two Presidents Cup Teams.
One charming connection is that Nicholas Thompson is in the field. He’ll be working very hard to win the tournament because his sister Lexi just won the LPGA Tour event in Kuala Lumpur two weeks ago, the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia. That was also played at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club. The Tour will play the course as a par 72 and 6,967 yards. Here’s an Instagram photo from the PGA Tour.
Kuala Lumpur is 12 hours ahead of Eastern time, so the first round coverage on The Golf Channel begins Wednesday from 11 PM to 3 AM (ET) and is the same all four days.