5. Cameron Smith
The 25-year-old Aussie was Jekyll and Hyde at TPC Kuala Lumpur last year, shooting field-low 8-under 64s on Thursday and Sunday, but played his two middle rounds 71-73 to fall off the pace of Pat Perez.
A T5 finish was still good, and it started a string of five top 20s to begin the season. He is streaky, and nobody knows quite where his game is, as his playoffs started tremendously, but ended poorly.
A T65 at the BMW Championship and a T20 (in a 30-man field) at the Tour Championship can be largely imputed to putting problems, but with the slow, wet greens this week, he could easily get his confidence back with the flatstick this week. For the season, he finished a respectable 72nd in strokes gained: putting.
World Rank: 32nd
Field Rank: 8th
Last Six: 20, 65, 3, 3, 56, 23
4. Rafa Cabrera Bello
In both of the past two years, RCB finished T10 at TPC Kuala Lumpur, combining two rounds of 67 with one 69 and one 70. He is an excellent bet to post a third straight quality CIMB result, as only Justin Thomas and Paul Casey (just barely) had better scoring averages this past season among players in this field.
The 34-year-old Spaniard finished the season well, and has had plenty of time to rest and reflect, not having teed up anywhere in the past month.
World Rank: 29th
Field Rank: 6th
Last Six: 41, 7, 60, 11, 10, 17
3. Xander Schauffele
Making the first start of his third season, the 24-year-old Schauffele is hoping to soon add a third win to his resume. Neither of his previous wins came in this past season, but Schauffele finished the playoffs strongly, posting a T3 at the BMW Championship, and a T7 at the Tour Championship.
Schauffele was T3 in his TPC Kuala Lumpur debut last year, although a Sunday 72 was disappointing. He is well-rested, and has an excellent combination of course history plus recent form.
World Rank: 18th
Field Rank: 2nd
Last Six: 7, 3, 49, MC, 35, 68
2. Billy Horschel
The 2014 FedExCup Champion again got sizzling hot in the recent playoffs, posting back-to-back T3s before finishing as the solo runner-up to Tiger at the Tour Championship.
Horschel has a tendency to run hot-and-cold, and right now, he is undeniably hot, hot, hot! Two weeks ago at TPC Atlanta, Horschel led the field in both driving accuracy and greens in regulation, the latter of which he placed third on the PGA Tour in for the season.
Coming off four consecutive tournaments at 9-under or better, he is also showing the ability to score, which is critical at the CIMB.
World Rank: 35th
Field Rank: 9th
Last Six: 2, 3, WD, 3, 11, 35
1. Justin Thomas
Justin Thomas is the best player in this field, without question. He is the highest-ranked in the field at No. 4, 14 spots higher than No. 18 Xander Schauffele, and he has killed in this event, going 26-under to win the 2016 title, and successfully defending the following year, reaching 23-under to finish three strokes out front.
2018 was another good season for the 2017 PGA Tour Player of the Year, as three victories were among his 10 top 10 finishes. He finished the season very strong, and was the only American who showed a pulse at the Ryder Cup, going 4-1-0 and knocking off Rory McIlroy to open up Sunday singles.
At 5-1 odds, Thomas is the tournament favorite by a large margin.
World Rank: 4th
Field Rank: 1st
Last Six: 7, 12, 24, 8, 6, 1