This week’s tournament comes from the PGA Tour, and it’s the CJ CUP. Actually, that’s not strictly true. It is in fact a joint PGA/Asian Tour co-sanctioned event… well, usually it is. Because typically, this event is held in South Korea at the Nine Bridges course on Jeju Island, but due to travel restrictions, it has been re-located this year to, of all places, Las Vegas. As a result, and on account of last week’s regular PGA event being held “just up the road”, we have a very strong line-up for this limited 78-runner event.
Here’s a preview of the action in the “Silver State”…
Not a great deal to report in terms of history as this event is being played for just the fourth time. As a co-sanctioned PGA/Asian Tour event there’s usually a good mix of players, but with this year’s re-location to the deserts of Nevada, all this is pretty much thrown out of the window. Yes, there’s still a smattering of talent from the Far East (the Asian and Japan Tours, plus South Africa and Australasia), but otherwise this resembles a small-field PGA Tour event. Albeit a damn good one!
This week’s venue is Shadow Creek, designed by Tom Fazio it’s a par 72 that will play 7,527 yards. It was opened in 1989, but has been upgraded since. As such it’s not a typical course for this location, in that hundreds of trees have been planted to give it more of a parkland feel. Along with a liberal sprinkling of water hazards, this is no resort-style course, and it will demand a certain amount of accuracy off the tee. It hasn’t been seen before on the main tour, but it did host the Tiger Woods/Phil Mickelson televised showdown (“The Match”) a couple of years back.
72-Hole Record – 279, Justin Thomas (2017)
18-Hole Record – n/a
Past Winners – Justin Thomas (2019), Brooks Koepka (2018), Justin Thomas (2017).
The Field – A limited field of 78 players line-up this week. Jon Rahm is the market leader.
The Weather – The chance of rain is 0%-0%-0%-0%, with temperatures in the low 80s, minimal wind speeds and barely any cloud cover. Where would you rather be..?
Here are four tips from the Golf Insider
XANDER SHAUFFELE – “This week the CJ Cup is being played in Las Vegas rather than South Korea due to Covid-19 restrictions. The venue is Shadow Creek, the course which hosted the big money match-up between Tiger and Mickelson in November 2018. The venue is unlike most desert courses in Las Vegas and has much more of a parkland feel with plenty of green trees and water scattered around the property. This should suit Schauffele, in fact the way he’s playing, any course should be a fit for this exceptionally talented youngster. We backed him most recently in the Tour Championship, when he won the 72-hole tournament, and his one start since then was a 5th place at Winged Foot. Schauffele’s numbers are solid right across the board, and provided he arrives in Nevada well-prepared and rested, and not a tad under-golfed, then he’s got to be right up there again this week. Aided by no halfway cut, Schauffele must surely go close again this week.”
COLLIN MORIKAWA – “Morikawa won’t have to travel far this week as he played last week at the Shriners Open, and despite shooting 6-under-par the first two days he still managed to miss the cut! To be honest, his game didn’t look quite as sharp as it has done, but with a guaranteed four rounds to be played, I like his chances to re-discover his best form this week at an appealing price. Despite missing the cut last week, he still managed to gain over three strokes on the field for the first two days from tee-to-green, something we’ve been accustomed to seeing early in his career. Morikawa won his first PGA Tour title in Las Vegas last year, at the Barracuda Championship, so he definitely has good memories playing in this state. Since that win he’s added a further two titles to his collection, which includes this year’s US PGA title. Morikawa is a superstar, and his game is in better shape than last week’s missed cut suggests, and his class should prevail over four rounds. He looks primed to add another title to his collection.”
TOMMY FLEETWOOD – “Fleetwood has well and truly re-discovered his long game form after another supreme performance from tee-to-green at the BMW PGA at Wentworth last week. The slight worry is his inability to close out events in which he has a great chance of winning. He blew a huge chance at winning the Scottish Open a fortnight ago, and last week on Sunday shot a dismal 73 to finish 13th when well-placed heading into the final round. Despite this inability to win events, he’s almost unrivalled at the minute from tee-to-green, gaining an amazing 40 strokes on the field from his last four starts. Twice he’s ranked 1st in this category and when you consider one of these four events was a missed cut at the US Open, it makes for even more impressive reading. Quite simply, he’s hitting the ball as good as ever, and this week’s test should reward good tee-to-green control, as there are plenty of water hazards lurking for errant shots. Fleetwood should be considered.”
SI WOO KIM – “The last man to make the staking plan is the often erratic Si Woo Kim – although, saying that, he’s become somewhat consistent over the last few months. Kim has only missed one cut since June, and that was the US Open at Winged Foot. His form has been very good, and his long game looks to be as good as ever. His best chance of a win over these last few months came at the Wyndham Championship, where he finished 3rd, but was leading heading into Sunday. Last week in Vegas was his second best finish since lockdown, finishing 8th, and playing superbly from tee-to-green once again. Since the US PGA Championship, Kim has gained 32 shots on the field from tee-to-green, which is an average of nearly five strokes a week – which is an elite level of ball-striking. Like Morikawa, Kim hasn’t had to travel far as he’s already in Vegas, and there are too many other positives to leave out the South Korean. His long game is good enough to win anywhere right now”.