It is incredibly early in the 2017-’18 PGA Tour season, but we already have a people’s champion. Pat Perez — the embodiment of the every man golfer — has coasted to victory at the CIMB Classic.
Perez, who opened with a 66, steadily climbed the leader board on Thursday and Friday before finishing off his four-stroke victory on the weekend.
After the victory, Perez reminded everyone that win doesn’t change anything for him. He’s still going to have a bad diet and he’s not going to work out. Not all heroes wear capes.
That said, the week wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for everyone. There were plenty of players who found themselves grinding it out at TPC Kuala Lumpur, all of whom ended up looking up the leader board at the schluby guy.
Here’s a look at those who made the most of their time in Malaysia and those who can’t wait to get back stateside:
Pat Perez — Much has already been made about Pat Perez’ win last week at the CIMB Classic, but it’s all warranted. Perez went to Malaysia and put a whipping on the field. After opening with a 66, Perez improved by a stroke each day on Friday and Saturday before finishing the job with a Sunday 69. For Perez, the win was the third of his PGA Tour career.
Keegan Bradley — I’ll admit it: I was wrong about Keegan Bradley — but that doesn’t mean I’m sold on him being back just yet. Bradley, who notched his first top-5 since July, fired two rounds of 65 during the week and a Sunday 67 finish at 20-under. For Bradley, I’m still not ready to consider him a serious fantasy stud. He needs to show this form on a consistent basis for me to start putting him in lineups.
Xander Schauffele — After his win at the TOUR Championship a couple weeks ago, I was seriously under the impression that Schauffele would find himself cooling off a bit. I mean — if I were him, I’d be celebrating. Schauffele, however, has continued to swing the sticks like the top pro he has blossomed into. Schauffele finished T-3 at TPC Kuala Lumpur and should be considered a fantasy stalwart until further notice.
Cameron Smith — Aussie talent Cameron Smith isn’t necessarily a household name, but it’s getting to the point where he should be for fantasy players. Smith lands on this list because of two mediocre rounds of 71 and 70 sandwiched between two masterful rounds of 64 to open and close his tournament. Smith, who’s only win came in the two-man team competition at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, is ready to win on the PGA Tour all by himself — and soon. So keep his name in the front of your mind.
Justin Thomas — It’s not too often you’ll see Justin Thomas’ name in the “bogeys” section of this piece, but his off week in Malaysia earns him a spot on the list. Thomas, who has been on fire since, like, January, finally cooled off a bit. Sadly, for fantasy owners, it came a place where he had won twice and on the heels of another great week. With that in mind, there were plenty of people reeling after his T-17 finish. That said, don’t shy away on Thomas in the coming weeks. As we all know — one off week does not a season make.
Peter Uihlein — From the, “you can’t win it on Thursday — but you can lose it” files comes the tournament of Peter Uihlein. One of the top rookies on the Tour this season, Uihlein is already a seasoned vet having playing a couple years on the European Tour before trying his luck stateside. Uihlein opened with a 73 on Thursday before finishing with rounds 68-65-69 to collect a T-10 check. Uihlein is worth a look for the immediate future, even if it’s as a sleeper or bench choice.
Grayson Murray — If I had told you Grayson Murray fired a round of 64 on Saturday, would you have believed he finished ___? Well, he did — mostly because he opened with a round of 82 on Thursday afternoon. Like David Simms once reminded us; “even good players shoot 82.” Like Tin Cup, Murray turned it around later in the week. Unlike Cup, Murray didn’t do anything immortal to finish his tournament.
Jason Dufner — It’s been a bit of a roller coaster couple of years for Jason Dufner but 2017 saw him get back in the winner’s circle and on track for a solid 2018. Last week, Dufner put together a ho-hum week, opening with three straight rounds in the 70’s. It may have been a fantasy disappointment, but it’s not necessarily a sign of things to come. I expect a decent year from Duf Daddy — and you can, too!