Phil Mickelson is planning on a winning week when he makes his Malaysian debut tomorrow at the CIMB Classic, Asia’s first FedEx Cup event. The American star will be chasing his fourth title of the year at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club (KLGCC) in the US$7 million event, co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour and Asian Tour.
World number three Mickelson, the highest-ranked played in the field this week, will be up against a stellar line-up which includes fellow Major winners Bubba Watson, Keegan Bradley, Ernie Els, Stewart Cink and Retief Goosen. Having competed in the region previously, Mickelson said the Malaysian heat and humidity would not pose a problem for him.
“I’m optimistic that I’ll play well,” said Mickelson, 43. “I don’t mind the heat at all. I actually enjoy it. I feel that it’s much easier on your body when it’s warm like this. The muscles become looser and perform better, and I think that the golf ball performs better in warm conditions, and I think that the heat is helpful to the golfers to play well.”
Mickelson noted that KLGCC’s West Course will provide a stern test of golf for the 78-man field, made up for 60 players from the PGA Tour, 10 from the Asian Tour and eight sponsor’s invites.
“The golf course is a great test of golf. It’s difficult, it’s challenging, and I think it will be a wonderful host for this event,” said the reigning British Open champion.
“The greens are not holding very well, and that’s making it difficult for guys to get the ball close to the hole. I don’t think the scores will be that low. The rough is extremely thick and difficult around the greens, and I think it’s a hard test,” he added.
Mickelson noted that giving the CIMB Classic official status on the PGA Tour was a boost for the event. “I think having this tournament be part of the FedExCup gives it a lot of credibility and world class golf here in Malaysia. I think it is a great statement, and we’re all appreciative of CIMB bringing world class golf here to Malaysia,” he said.
Title holder Nick Watney, who defeated a top field which included Tiger Woods last year at the Mines Resort and Golf Club, is looking forward to a successful defence on a different venue.
“I’m definitely very excited to be back. I have a lot of good memories from last time I was here. The golf course is in great shape out there. It’s very challenging. I’m looking forward to getting the week started,” said the 32-year-old.
“It’s very hilly out there but I think the main difference would be how narrow the fairways are. The Mines are pretty generous driving the ball, but here we hit into a lot of 15 yard gaps or maybe even less than that.”