Every October, golf leapfrogs from the sports pages to cover headlines of dailies in Kuala Lumpur as some of the world’s best players descend on the Malaysian capital for the US PGA Tour’s (co-sanctioned with the Asian Tour) CIMB Classic— the pre-eminent tour’s only stop in Asia. And every year, this elite band of players reiterates its pre-eminent place at the apex of professional golf’s pyramid. Consider the winning scores that have been recorded at the event in its last three editions: 18-under-par (Ben Crane, 2010), 23-under-par (Bo Van Pelt, 2011) and 22-under-par (Nick Watney, 2012). This year is no different: At the time this column was written, Keegan Bradley was leading at 13-under-par after shooting an astonishing 14 birdies in the first two rounds. Shiv Kapur was the only Indian in the hunt—lying nine shots adrift at 5-under and tied for the 13th place.
What is different about this year’s edition, though, is the venue. Unlike the past three years, when it was hosted by The Mines Resort & Golf Club, the 2013 CIMB Classic is being played at the West Course of the Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club.
The KLGCC is only a 10-minute drive from the city centre and a classic 36-hole layout comprising the East and West courses. The CIMB Classic joins an impressive roll of top tournaments hosted here—the Maybank Malaysian Open, and the Ryder Cup-styled Europe vs America Solheim Cup for ladies. When I visited last year, the West course was closed for renovation (it was being primed for the CIMB) and our group played the East course (which was the venue for the Solheim Cup). Chauvinists all, our group decided to play from the longer championship tees, as opposed to the more manageable Blue tees (after all, we weren’t going to play a sorter yardage than the ladies!).
As expected, the front nine was spent more in drop zones and in deep sand, rather than the fairway. Suitably chastised, we quietly moved up to the blue tees on the back nine.
The KLGCC is a classic layout for imaginative golfers who like to shape their shots. Most holes give spectacular views of the holes and surrounding scenery, and offer different routes to the greens for golfers of different skill levels. The longer and tougher West course is constantly undulating and features a huge lake at the turn on the ninth hole. If