Malaysia goes deep in FedEx Cup list to fill field

Malaysia goes deep in FedEx Cup list to fill field

Published Oct. 21, 2014 6:14 p.m. ET

Nicholas Thompson missed qualifying for the FedEx Cup playoffs by one point last year. He finished at No. 125 on the PGA Tour money list by $725 and only kept his full card for this season because the tour used the top 125 from the money list for the last time.

So what does that get him?

A trip to Kuala Lumpur next week for a $7 million tournament with no cut for the 78-man field.

The CIMB Classic, the first part of the two-event Asian swing, is for the top available players from the final FedEx Cup standings last year, the top 10 from Asian Tour Order of Merit and eight sponsor exempts. And if needed, the field is filled by additional players from the FedEx Cup.


Exactly why the tournament had to go so deep into the FedEx Cup is not entirely clear, although there are a few theories, starting with the schedule. A year ago, the Asian swing was the third event on the schedule after two tournaments on the West Coast. Now the McGladrey Classic is the third event, preceding Malaysia.

There also is another tournament from which players can choose. The Sanderson Farms Championship in Mississippi, which previously was held opposite the British Open, now is the same week as the HSBC Champions in Shanghai. That option wasn't available last year.

It's worth nothing that CIMB used to offer players two business-class tickets on Air Malaysia - typically one for the player, one for his caddie - and that perk has been reduced to one ticket this year.

Among those going to Malaysia is Kevin Chappell, who would have made the field easily at No. 55.

''It worked well with my schedule,'' Chappell said from Sea Island. ''My goal was to play in the fall, but not play too many in a row. And obviously, the perks are good. They run a great golf tournament. You get police escorts to and from the golf course. It's a first-class event. Yes, it's a long way to go, but I really do like it.''

Carlos Ortiz of Mexico decided to play Malaysia primarily because with a short field he is guaranteed points.

Tim Wilkinson (No. 119), Brice Garnett (121) and James Hahn (123) also are in the field.

The CIMB Classic next season will go back to being held after the opening two events on the West Coast, and perhaps the tour won't have to go so deep in the standings to fill the field. Or maybe it will.

''I think the wraparound season is a little bit more known now,'' Chappell said. ''Guys might feel comfortable taking time off and not playing an event.''


ASIA-PACIFIC AMATEUR: Yang Gunn is the U.S. Amateur champion from South Korea who plays at San Diego State. And he figures to have a home-field advantage when the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship gets underway at Royal Melbourne.

Yang spent his teenage years on the fabled sand belt courses in Melbourne.

''This is one of the best tournaments in the world,'' Yang said. ''I'm really excited about being here and kind of competing on my home soil. I grew up here, and I really love the way they play golf here on the sand belt. It's like links golf.''

It's the first time the 72-hole tournament has been held outside Asia since it began in 2009.

Others in the field include 2012 champion Guan Tianlang of China. The winner gets a spot in the Masters next year and is exempt into the final stage of qualifying for the British Open. Yang already is exempt into both as the U.S. Amateur champion.

The real home-course advantage belongs to 16-year-old Ryan Ruffels, the Australian junior champion and a member at Royal Melbourne. And he is well aware of the spoils that go to the victor this week.

''All week I've been holing putts out on the 18th green pretending that it's the putt to get into the Masters,'' Ruffels said. ''It's something we're all aware of, whether we say we're thinking about it or not.''


GOLF BEER: First there were the Golf Boys. Maybe this group should be called the Beer Boys.

Graeme McDowell, Keegan Bradley and Freddie Jacobson are in the beer business, launching their own label of craft beers through Lakeland, Florida-based Beer Hub. The name of their company is GolfBeer Brewing Co.

Jacobson's Scandinavian Style Blonde Ale is brewed with Crystal malt and a variety of European hops. Bradley's New England Style Lager is made with two-row barley and North American hops. The other is G-Mac's Celtic Style Pale Ale, with a floral hope aroma and a snappy finish.

Each golfer contributed to the design of the packaging that features their name, signature and silhouette.

GolfBeer initially will be available on draft and in 12-ounce cans at select golf courses and restaurants in Florida, with plans to expand to grocery stores and bars next year. Among the restaurants that will carry the craft beer is McDowell's restaurant in Orlando called Nona Blue.

McDowell said as a golfer and a restaurant owner, the beer company brings together ''two of my favorite things.''


LPGA SPONSOR; The LPGA Tour has a new sponsor for one of its best events, along with a new location.

Underwriters Laboratories, based in Northbrook, Illinois, will be the title sponsor of the UL International Crown for 2016 and 2018. The tournament among eight qualifying countries will be held at Rich Harvest Farms in the Chicago suburbs in 2016. The LPGA announced it would be played in South Korea in 2018.

Spain won the inaugural event this year at Caves Valley.

''When we came up with the idea for the International Crown, our goal was to launch a truly global event for women's golf,'' LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan said. ''We were looking for a partner to help grow it globally and I can think of no better partner than UL, whose business aligns perfectly with the LPGA.''

UL was an ambassador sponsor for the inaugural event.

The location of the 2018 tournament has not been announced.


DIVOTS: Adam Scott tied for 38th in the Japan Open last week, his 52nd consecutive tournament worldwide that he has made the cut. He also began his search for a new caddie, using Eddie Gardino in Japan. Gardino was on Angel Cabrera's bag for his 2007 U.S. Open victory at Oakmont. ... Ian Poulter said Tuesday on Twitter that he will be a full Titleist staff player next season. He previously was with Cobra-Puma Golf. ... PGA Tour rookie Tony Finau has made 43 birdies in his first two events.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Stacy Lewis remains No. 1 in the women's world ranking by six-thousandths of a point over Inbee Park.


FINAL WORD: ''My staff back in Florida has informed me that we've already set a record for the most picture tweets of any resort in 24 hours in LPGA history.'' - LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan on this week's tournament at the Blue Bay Resort on Hainan island in China.