Fresh off a winner in last week’s article (thanks, Keegan!), we look ahead to the CJ Cup at Congaree Golf Club in South Carolina. As we mentioned last week, travel this time of year can put a damper on the success of some players. In the past four weeks, the PGA Tour has gone from Mississippi to Las Vegas to Japan to South Carolina. All of this travel and jetlag can wreak havoc on players. I would rather use players who are rested, which is how we found the Keegan Bradley pick last week.
The only previous tour event Congaree has hosted is the Palmetto Championship in 2021, so it will be new to many players in the field. It’s a unique course in that there is no rough, and sandy waste areas are in play if you miss the large fairways. So what does it take to succeed here? I would focus on driving distance, overall iron play, and the ability to get up and down off of tight lies. Players will hit a lot of fairways and be faced with iron shots, which must be precise to hold the firm greens. When players miss greens, they will have to deal with shaved runoffs, which create a larger dispersion in skill and allow talented short-game players to separate themselves.
Let’s take a look at some rested players who fit this skillset:
Rory McIlroy $11,100, Scottie Scheffler $10,400, Justin Thomas $10,200
All three of these players come in rested, and each ranks top 12 in driving distance, approach, and around the green. That’s the exact combination that we are looking for. Rory, Scottie, and JT would be the top three targets for me in the high-salary range for this week.
Russell Henley $7,300
Yes, Henley doesn’t hit the ball far, but he checks all of the other boxes. He hasn’t played in the past two weeks, so should be rested, and he ranks first in approach and 10th around the green. No one else in Henley’s salary range comes anywhere close to those rankings. We have seen him contend with the big dogs at time, and Congaree should feel like a home game for this Georgia boy.
Harris English $6,500
This is a good buy-low spot for another Georgia resident. English played well at Congaree in 2021, and the course suits his game well. He has struggled for most of 2022, but he was the 10th-ranked player in the world just 15 months ago. English has shown some signs of resurgence in the 2022-23 season, with a ninth-place finish at the Fortinet Championship and a 28th place at the Shriners Children’s Open. He took last week off and didn’t travel to Japan, so should be in good shape right now. Historically, English has an above-average iron game and a great short game. What usually holds him back is his driver, mostly due to inaccuracy. However, the wide fairways here will mute that weakness a bit, so he looks like the best cheap option at the CJ Cup.