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Quick 9: Players teeing it up on Asian swing get jump on competitors

Pat Perez's victory at the CIMB Classic not only gives him a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour, but also 500 FedEx Cup points which will be crucial if he wants to make a return trip to the Tour Championship in 2018. Sadiq Asyraf/AP Photo

1. The benefits of a fast start

Pat Perez offers a strong example of what playing in Asia can mean, especially since these tournaments count in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings.

Sure, Perez won the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, his third career victory, one that gets him into the Tournament of Champions in January and has now pushed him to a career-high 18th in the world after he followed up his victory with a tie for fifth at the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges in South Korea.

But Perez, 41, has also given himself a huge head start on the 2017-18 season that is just three weeks old. While few people are looking at FedEx Cup points now, his 590 leads the way and he'll earn more this week when he plays in the WGC-HSBC Champions in China, another no-cut event with just 78 players and guaranteed points and prize money.

Last month, for the first time, Perez played in the Tour Championship, reserved for the top 30 in FedEx Cup points. With 590 points, he's nearly halfway to his regular-season total for last season.

Or, to put it in this perspective, he's more than 230 points ahead of the player, J.J. Henry, who finished 125th to qualify for the last FedEx Cup playoff spot.

There is a lot of chatter about golf's never-ending season and the lack of a true offseason.

But for those who suck it up -- Perez, Justin Thomas, Brendan Steele among them -- and take advantage, it can set up the entire season even though it is a long way until August, when the regular season ends. It is also interesting to note that all three of those players won during the fall a year ago.

2. Long year

There are 17 players who are in all three of the Asian events, including this week's WGC. Despite the advantages, there are five American players ranked among the top 30 in the world who did not compete in any of the three Asian events: Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Charley Hoffman, Kevin Kisner and Kevin Chappell.

It's possible all would have skipped anyway, but that group of players also competed in the Presidents Cup, which was their fifth event in six weeks and sixth in eight weeks going back to the PGA Championship.

3. JT joins DJ, Jordan

With is victory in South Korea, Thomas moved to a career-high No. 3 in the world behind Dustin Johnson and Spieth.

It is the first time Americans occupy the top three spots since May of 2010, when it was Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Steve Stricker.

4. Tiger's stinger

The shot that Woods used almost to perfection throughout his career was on display during his most recent video Twitter post, another glimpse into his golf comeback. Woods has now posted clips of a stinger, a driver, iron shots and a clinic. If nothing else, he seems comfortable showing the world his progress.

Understandably, there has been considerable reaction, including from his former coach, Hank Haney.

And the idea of him playing in The Open at Carnoustie next year also was of interest.

5. Time to celebrate

After finishing fourth in Spain to retain his European Tour card for next season, Wales' Jamie Donaldson celebrated in an unusual manner.

6. Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship

Even the most intense golf fans might have trouble recognizing any of the players in the field for the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, which begins Thursday in New Zealand. Few had probably heard of Japan's Hideki Matsuyama, either, before he twice won the tournament -- earning a Masters invitation each time -- on his way to becoming one of the world's top players.

That was the vision of former Augusta National chairman Billy Payne and the R&A who saw a tournament such as this as a way to help grow the game in that part of the world. Now being played for the ninth time, the event will be contested at Royal Wellington Golf Club.

The winner not only earns an invitation to the Masters but also direct entry into The Open at Carnoustie. The runner-up will receive entry into The Open Qualifying Series with an opportunity to qualify for The Open.

Former U.S. Amateur champion Curtis Luck of Australia won the tournament a year ago and has since turned pro. He tied for 46th at the Masters in 2017.

7. Golf's shot clock

The European Tour tried it in a limited capacity at an event earlier this year and now is bringing it to a full tournament in Austria. The Shot Clock Masters, June 6-9, will implement a shot clock throughout the tournament, with players required to hit within 40 seconds -- unless they are the first to play in the group, when they will be given 50 seconds to hit a shot.

Any breach of the rule will come with a 1-shot penalty, although each player will be afforded two "time-outs'' per round in which he would be allowed double the time to play the shot.

Among those applauding the move was Hall of Famer Colin Montgomerie

8. Sanderson Farms

A good number of the 23 PGA Tour rookies are scheduled to compete in this week's Sanderson Farms Championship, a full-field event opposite the WGC-HSBC Champions that awards 300 points to the winner. (A regular PGA Tour event awards 500, and 550 will go to the winner of this week's WGC event.) Among the 120 players in the field are Davis Love III, Luke Donald and Hunter Mahan.

9. Take a break

After winning five times in 2017 -- four times as part of last season and now once as part of this season -- Thomas is understandably looking forward to some down time. He will not tee it up again until the Hero World Challenge in late November, and then not again until early January at the Tournament of Champions.