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Tuesday, October 22, 2013
CIMB Classic experts' picks


Each week of the season, our experts share their insights into which players fit the criteria for our four categories: Horse for the Course (a golfer who knows the track inside and out), Birdie Buster (a guy who could take it low this week), Super Sleeper (a player who could unexpectedly contend) and Winner.

This week's tournament: CIMB Classic at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.


Horse for the Course

Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: Bo Van Pelt. A 6-stroke win in 2011 followed by a second-place finish last year, which included a 9-under 62, should be proof enough for you that Van Pelt will again get a top-five.

Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer:  Bo Van Pelt. The 38-year-old former Oklahoma State star has struggled in 2013 with his putting. With just one top-10, he had his worst season on tour since 2008. But he has enjoyed great success at this tournament before, winning the CIMB in 2011 and finishing in a tie for second last year.

Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Scott Hend. Kuala Lumpur is a new venue for the event, but Hend, an Australian, is familiar with the terrain as he is second on the Asian Tour's Order of Merit and is coming off a victory on Sunday in Macau.

Kevin Maguire, ESPN.com senior golf editor:  Phil Mickelson. Since it's hard to fit this category with Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club hosting the CIMB Classic for the first time, let's go with a guy whose game can travel well. Lefty's been around the block a couple hundred times and knows how to manage his game under all conditions.


Birdie Buster

Collins:  Sergio Garcia. People may remember only what happened at the Players Championship with Tiger Woods, followed by his statements at a European Tour dinner weeks later. What people forget: Sergio went 17-for-17 on the PGA Tour in cuts made, including making it all the way to the Tour Championship. He's playing well and now he gets to play in a place where idiots (hopefully) don't yell out things when he's hitting.

Evans:  David Lynn. Lynn, who finished second to Rory McIlroy in the 2012 PGA Championship, ended a nine-year wait for his second European Tour title with a win two weeks ago at the Portugal Masters. The 40-year-old Englishman came from 6 shots back to win with a 63 in the final round.

Harig: Jimmy Walker. Coming off a victory at the Frys.com Open, Walker tied for 12th in Las Vegas and heads to Malaysia as the early FedEx Cup points leader.

Maguire:  Jimmy Walker. His maiden victory in the 2013-14 opener certainly shows he's playing well, but what's nearly as impressive was Walker's T-12 the following week in Las Vegas. The typical letdown didn't happen and playing this tiny, 78-man field only helps his chances to continue what just could be a career year.


Super Sleeper

Collins:  David Lynn. Getting his second European Tour win earlier this month at the Portugal Masters, Lynn is playing some of the best golf of his career. All this while being one of the most entertaining golfers on Twitter. You should be following both his golf and his tweets (@DaveLynndawg).

Evans:  Kiradech Aphibarnrat. The 24-year-old Bangkok, Thailand, native leads the Asian Tour Order of Merit. At Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club in March, he won the Maybank Malaysian Open, where he beat a very strong European Tour field. At the CIMB, he will be paired with Phil Mickelson and defending champ Nick Watney in the first two rounds.

Harig: Nicholas Thompson. He has yet to win on the PGA Tour, but he's got some good karma on his side. His sister, Lexi, won the LPGA Tour event on the same course two weeks ago.

Maguire:  Bo Van Pelt. He finished tied for second a year ago and won this event in 2011 (albeit on a different course), but Van Pelt struggled most of the 2013 season after ending up with his worst finish on the money list since 2008. That being said, some positive vibes could kick-start his year, especially since he hasn't played on the PGA Tour since early September.


Winner

Collins:  Gary Woodland. Last season he made 22 of 26 cuts, yet had only two top-10s (win and second). After missing his first cut in the season at the Fry's two weeks ago (where I picked him to win), I'm sticking with the bomber to take advantage of a course that plays under 7,000 yards.

Evans:  Brendon de Jonge. I picked the burly 33-year-old Zimbabwean to win last week in Vegas, but he missed the cut. Yet I still have faith that he is going to get a victory before the fall ends. He finished in a tie for fourth in last year's CIMB with rounds of 68-65-66-66.

Harig: Keegan Bradley. Coming off a solid Presidents Cup, Bradley is looking to get a victory after a winless 2013 season that saw him post career highs for top-10s (7) and top-25s (15). A win is the next step.

Maguire:  Keegan Bradley. Although it often helps to have played a few events to get back into form, the trip from Vegas to Malaysia isn't all that easy, so I'm going with Bradley since he hasn't played since the Presidents Cup. His length -- Bradley was 11th on tour last season in driving distance at 300.6 yards -- will help on a course that will play under 7,000. Plus, three of the four par-5s are less than 540 yards on the scorecard, so he's got that going for him ... which is nice.