Some of the PGA's finest are off to Malaysia this week for the CIMB Classic.
And of course, as always, the biggest story of the tournament is Tiger Woods, who is showing his face again for the first (sanctioned) time since disaster struck at the Ryder Cup.
But those memories have long been forgotten, and instead, Tiger is trying to flow with the good vibes by remembering what took place the last time he played in Malaysia.
On Wednesday, Woods told the press, via CIMBClassic.com:
It's great to be back. It's been a long time. The golf course looks the same as it did 13 years ago, but some great memories from playing here. To be able to hold off the Spaniards and to be able win the world cup, my first one was a lot of fun.
Life has certainly changed a lot for Tiger since the last time he was here ... but hopefully, being back will provide him with an opportunity to rediscover his winning ways.
But he'll certainly have his fair share of competition.
Where: The Mines Resort & Golf Club in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
When: Thursday, Oct. 25 to Sunday, Oct. 28
Golfers to Watch
Bo Van Pelt
Last year, Bo Van Pelt took home first place at the CIMB Classic by a six-stroke margin. He birdied five of the final eight holes and finished with a 64 in the final round. There was no competition.
But can he do it again? He thinks so, as long as he can hold strong throughout the weekend. Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Van Pelt said (via CIMBClassic.com):
There were a couple of times in my career where I've had leads and not played as well on Sunday. So to play the way I did last year I think gave me some confidence going into this year.
2012 has been kind to Van Pelt as well: He's coming off a win at the Perth International, where he beat Jason Dufner by two strokes.
And speaking of Jason Dufner, he's another serious threat to contend for the title at the Mines this weekend. Not only did he shoot a 69 in the final round in Perth last weekend, but he also has two PGA Tour victories to his name this year: He won the Zurich Classic in a playoff, and a couple of weeks later, he won the HP Byron Nelson Championship at the end of May.
He followed up that win with a second-place finish at Colonial a week later, then tied for fourth at the U.S. Open a few weeks after that.
It seems that solid performances tend to come in spurts for Dufner, and in that sense, the rest of the field must be prepared for a fight at the Mines.
Who's your pick to win?
The big story of the tournament is the fact that Tiger Woods is there—but that's no different from any other tournament, any month, any time.
Everyone in the field is well aware of the impact Woods has on any tournament he plays in; he brings press, notoriety and excitement—and, of course, competition—with him, wherever he plays. This week, Thai golfer Prom Meesawat told the Indian Sports News:
It’s always very good to have Tiger in the tournament. It’s going to make the field more exciting, especially when he’s a half Thai. … Every tournament that I’ve played with Tiger in the field, I’m very happy.
But whether or not he can pull off a victory is another question. Woods' last big event was the Ryder Cup, which proved disastrous for the U.S. Woods himself missed a three-and-a-half-foot putt for par on the 18th hole, and it's lapses like those that he'll have to avoid if he wants to pull out a victory this weekend.
Notable Pairings for Opening Round
*Malaysia is 12 hours ahead of EST
|11:40 p.m. ET||Tiger Woods||Marcus Fraser|
|11:30 p.m. ET||Nick Watney||Jbe' Kruger|
|11:20 p.m. ET||Jason Dufner||Masanori Kobayashi|
|11:10 p.m. ET||Bo Van Pelt||Thaworn Wiratchant|
A full list of tee times can be found at CIMBClassic.com.
TV Schedule (via PGATour.com)
|Round 1||Oct. 27||1 a.m. - 4 a.m.||GOLF|
|Round 2||Oct. 28||1 a.m. - 4 a.m.||GOLF|
|Round 3||Oct. 29||1 a.m. - 4 a.m.||GOLF|
|Round 4||Oct. 30||1 a.m. - 4 a.m.||GOLF|
Prediction: Bo Van Pelt Wins
Can he do it two years in a row? I think he can. He showed last year that he's capable of playing this course better than anybody—by a landslide—and he's on a bit of a hot streak right now, coming off that win in Perth.
He also seems focused enough to know exactly what he has to do in order to win again, and that tunnel vision will pay off this weekend.