Dan Geraghty selects four First Round Leader picks for the PGA Tour's trip to Malaysia...
"Ryo Ishikawa's 26th on debut in this event reads well, he looks a fantastic triple figure first round leader bet this week"
Thursday's weather forecast (and indeed the entire week's forecast) looks worrying to say the least; thunderstorms are due to hit the area after midday on day one meaning disruptions are likely. However, with a field of only 78 competitors and just two hours between the tee times, I won't be giving a player's draw too much regard when selecting my first round leader picks.
Given this is the only PGA Tour event in Asia, it will clearly be somewhat of a culture shock for many in the field; the time difference and searing heat will take some getting used to.
Kevin Chappell believes those that have played here in the past will hold a big advantage over the 28 debutants and it's the American who's first on my list this week. Chappell has been in the top 25 in both editions of the CIMB Classic played at KLG&CC and was knocking on the door at the end of last season, finishing the campaign with three straight top 25s. He led the field for greens in regulation here last season, a factor that should be key this week.
Ryo Ishikawa's 50th placed finish at last week's Shriners Hospitals for Children Open doesn't tell the whole story. Ishikawa was among the leaders for much of the tournament before a succession of mistakes saw him fall out of contention. The Japanese star is having no trouble making birdies this season and his game looks in good shape. His 26th on debut in this event last year reads well, he looks a fantastic triple figure first round leader bet this week.
This week highly rated Australian youngster Cameron Smith finds himself in a three-ball with American starlets Daniel Berger and Justin Thomas. The latter pair are at least half the price of Smith for first round leader but the Australian may just be the man to beat, he burst onto the PGA Tour scene with a fifth in this tournament last year; 80/1 looks too good to turn down.
Finally, my leftfield selection this week is Chesson Hadley. Although the American finished way down in 65th on his debut here last year, the experience should have done him the world of good, and his final round 69 was his best of the week. Hadley has suffered from inconsistency in his brief time as a professional but has won three times in the last two years (once on the PGA Tour, twice on the Web.com Tour). He's a very talented golfer, capable of going low, his price strikes me as large in a limited field; massive improvement on last year's visit wouldn't be a huge surprise.
Kevin Chappell @ 66/1
Ryo Ishikawa @ 100/1
Cameron Smith @ 80/1
Chesson Hadley @ 150/1
1 point E/W on each
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