The PGA Tour heads abroad this week to Kuala Lumpur for the CIMB Classic, where Tiger Woods will make his first sanctioned appearance since the Medinah meltdown. Woods made an appearance in Turkey this month at the unsanctioned match play event, knocking it around with some of the other top players in the world. But this will be his first start in a Tour event since the FedExCup, as he tries to fine tune his game in preparation for the 2013 season.
Woods is no stranger to making these appearances halfway around the world, and he's by far the most high-profile attendee this week. He's also the favorite, going for his fourth win of the year at The MINES Resort and Golf Club. While it was yet another major-less season, Woods did have one of the best summers on Tour. He was near the top of the leaderboard throughout the FedExCup, and there's no reason to think he won't be in form in Malaysia this week. In the limited field event, it will be shocking not to see his name on the first page come Sunday.
Woods is not the only 2012 multi-win player in attendance, as the steady Jason Dufner will tee it up as well. Dufner played in Perth last week at an Austrailian event, and he continued his solid form with a T2. He was one of the top performing Americans at Medinah, and his accurate ball-striking makes him a contender on a weekly basis. Dufner won twice this season, both in New Orleans and at the Byron Nelson, but he was in contention at several other stops. It appears he's here to stay, and a win at the CIMB Classic would be a nice cap to a breakout season.
There are plenty of other talented young Americans in the field trying to improve their stock for 2013, including Bill Haas, Nick Watney, and Bo Van Pelt. Watney seems to be rebounding from a decidedly unremarkable 2012 season, picking up a FedExCup event win to salvage his lackluster summer. He has the talent to win multiple majors, but he'll need to improve his game over the winter to get back in the mix next year. This week provides another opportunity to do that.
Van Pelt edged out Dufner last week in Perth and is the defending champion at the CIMB Classic. Van Pelt is as consistent as they come, and he's been repeatedly close to picking up a major over the past two years. He and Woods are likely the top two to beat entering the week. Haas backed up his 2011 FedExCup $10 million prize with a win at Riviera early in the season, but he's been relatively quiet since. A strong showing here could also catapult him back among the top Americans for next season.
While this week's tournament may be halfway around the world, the players in the field are among the best for a Fall Series event. It's always worth tuning in with Woods on hand, and the combination of young Americans should push him to play his best throughout the week.