Malaysia Gold Rush

Well, it didn’t take long for the big guns in this week’s CIMB Asia Pacific Classic Malaysia to destroy the Mines Resort and Golf Club just outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Robert Allenby leads the gravy train with a flawless, 8-under 63. This is significant because his Achilles is his putting; you can’t shoot 8-under while you’re putting badly. Those two things don’t go together. The other reason this is significant is that the Australian Masters is coming up in two weeks in his native country and he would dearly love to do well there.

The other reason this is significant has to do with the chirping going on between the two President Cup captains, Greg Norman and Fred Couples. I have no idea what he was thinking or what precipitated it, but Norman criticized Couples’ early selection of Tiger Woods to the team. Perhaps because there was no cause for him having offered that opinion, Couples responded, first by defending the greatness of Woods and second by asserting that he could also say that Allenby, one of Norman’s choices, hadn’t won a tournament in the U.S. in ten years.

So how much of this was on Allenby’s mind while he was tearing up Robert Trent Jones, Jr.’s relatively short (6,966 yards) course? Probably not much while he was playing the shots, but maybe once he realized that things were going his way and probably once his work was done and he realized he had the lead. Either way it was masterful. Either he had these things on his mind and was able to sublimate them to just playing the game or he sublimated them beforehand and never thought about them at all.

One stroke back was Venezuelan hero, Jhonattan Vegas, who also had eight birdies, but also had an early bogey on 4. The fact that he came right back with a birdie on 5 to keep his momentum going with six more birdies—including four in a row starting on 15—was also masterful. This is what his game has always promised since he burst onto the scene early this year.

And one stroke back of Vegas was Swedish transplant, Fredrik Jacobson. He took a shortcut to his clean-card, 6-under 65; he eagled the driveable, 292-yard 15th.

It continues to amaze that these guys can get on an airplane in Florida, fly 10,200 miles across 12 time zones to Kuala Lumpur, take a couple of days to get acclimated and then shoot these incredible scores.

It’s what the very best players do. On the other hand, since one or the other of them seem to be able to do this at every tournament no matter where it is, maybe it really is ordinary. Or maybe it just looks that way because they’re doing it against the best and the quality of play is so uniformly high.

But I don’t think so.

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