U.S. Markets closed

CIMB Classic preview: Patrick Reed returns after Ryder Cup heroics

Justin Thomas earned his first PGA Tour victory here last season.

The 2016-17 PGA Tour season is off and running after Brendan Steele fought through rain and a host of challengers to win the Safeway Open last week.

This week, just 78 players head to Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club in Malaysia to play in the limited-field CIMB Classic. Known as one of the top fall series events, the CIMB has produced impressive winners in recent seasons.

Justin Thomas drained some clutch putts down the stretch last year to defeat Adam Scott by a stroke and win his first PGA Tour event. Ryder Cup star Ryan Moore won in 2013 and 2014.

Scott, Thomas and Moore are all in the field again this week, but they will be chasing the spotlight from Ryder Cup hero Patrick Reed, who is making his first start since beating Rory McIlroy in his singles match.

Reed finished tied for 10th in this event last year.

Here are this week's top golfers:

Patrick Reed (world ranking: 7) — America's match-play bulldog will be a fan favorite even in a different country. With eight top-15 finishes in his last 10 starts, he enters the tournament as one of the most consistent players on Tour. 

Adam Scott (6) — Scott produced some magic by placing in the top eight in all four playoff events. Couple that with his two wins and two runner-ups this season and all putting doubts after the anchoring ban were thrown out the window. He almost won here last year and should contend again.

Sergio Garcia (14) — Garcia was disappointed to only halve his singles match against Phil Mickelson at the Ryder Cup, but the two shot 10 under at Hazeltine that day. Clearly in form, Garcia will have to put his Ryder Cup concerns behind him.

Paul Casey (12) — There may not be a hotter golfer in the world right now. Casey has two runner-up finishes, a fourth and a third in his last four starts. Pessimistic fans will point out his inability to win, but four straight top-four finishes is impressive no matter how you shake it.

Hideki Matsuyama (13) — Fresh off a win at the Japan Open, Matsuyama won't be quite as jet-lagged this week. Putting has been an issue for him this season, but he's one of the most consistent ball strikers on Tour. He finished fifth here last year.

Russell Knox (20) — The Europeans would have had a better chance of winning the Ryder Cup if Knox and Casey were on the team. Knox isn't the longest hitter, but he won twice last season and can putt with the best of them.

Ryan Moore (30) — Few outside the golf community knew who Ryan Moore was before the Ryder Cup, but he's won this event twice and went toe-to-toe with Rory McIlroy at the Tour Championship. Moore has four top 10s in his last six starts, and should be a factor again this week.

Rafa Cabrera Bello (31) — Europe's impressive Ryder Cup rookie has developed into a bit of a late-bloomer after a masterful season on both the European and PGA Tours. Unlike most Spaniards, Bello struggles around the greens. But his iron game doesn't leave him off the putting surface very often.

Others to watch:

Justin Thomas, Kevin Na, Tony Finau, Kevin Chappell, Emiliano Grillo and Marcus Fraser