No need to shift between upper and lower case this week: it’s time for the PGA TOUR’s CJ CUP @ SHADOW CREEK! We have other news as well, albeit of a less exclamatory nature.
CJ, no DJ, Cup
Normally played in South Korea, the CJ Cup has moved to Tom Fazio’s Shadow Creek this year. The limited-field event gets underway Thursday morning with a bunch of free money and FedEx Cup points on the line. Site of the made-for-TV match between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson two years ago, Shadow Creek is a first-time PGA Tour host. CJ Cup Tee Times
The top five in the Official World Golf Ranking were ready to peg it in Las Vegas this weekend, but No. 1 Dustin Johnson had to withdraw on Tuesday after testing positive for Covid-19.
DJ is easily the highest-profile player to test positive for the coronavirus since the restart in June. His WD also makes it two weeks in a row that a positive test has forced a top-20 player to withdraw from a PGA Tour event. (At the Shriners last week, it was Tony Finau.) For the better part of the summer, the Tour avoided bad news on the Covid-19 front. The past couple of weeks, however, have been a reality check.
Johnson was scheduled to play two other events, the Zozo Championship and the Houston Open, before the Masters. Let’s hope he recovers quickly and is healthy for Augusta.
Korn Ferry Tour season wrap-up
The 2020 Korn Ferry Tour season has come to an end, yet the vast majority of players will be back for another go-around in 2021. Instead of awarding 50 PGA Tour cards, as is the custom, the Tour will hand out those memberships at the end of the combined 2020-21 Korn Ferry Tour mega-season.
Here’s a brief recap of the movers and shakers on the KFT in 2020 and what we’ll be watching for next year:
Mr. Wonderful – Will Zalatoris was the talk of the Korn Ferry Tour all season. The 24-year-old Wake Forest product finished the year with 10 top-10 finishes in 16 events and a healthy lead in the points standings. Zalatoris has all but locked up his PGA Tour card with a strong fall highlighted by a T-6 at the U.S. Open
Other sure things – Unless you’re a diehard golf fan, you might not think there are “big names” on the Korn Ferry Tour, but Davis Riley and Brandon Wu should be exceptions. Both won on the KFT in 2020—Riley twice—and they currently sit third and fourth in the points standings, respectively. Elite talents, Riley and Wu seem like locks for next year’s top 25.
Unsung studs – Four of the top 10 on the points list—Taylor Pendrith (No. 2), Greyson Sigg (No. 7), Paul Barjon (No. 9), and Chad Ramey (No. 10)—did not win in 2020. Pendrith led the tour in runner-up finishes (4), and all recorded at least five top 10s.
Outside looking in – Among those not currently in the top 25, there are plenty of high-upside players. Dan McCarthy (No. 26) had a dominant season on the Mackenzie Tour in 2016 and has improved each of his three years on the KFT. Guys like Curtis Luck (No. 29), Trey Mullinax (No. 32), Ollie Schniederjans (No. 35), and Adam Svensson (No. 40) are looking to regain their PGA Tour status after losing their cards over the past few seasons.
Long shots with a chance – It’s almost certain that a player way back in the current standings will make a run and break into the top 25 by the end of the 2021 season. Austin Smotherman (No. 63), Dawson Armstrong (No. 64), and Harry Hall (No. 68) are our best bets to do just that. Both Smotherman and Armstrong have some experience to lean on, and Hall made it to No. 68 in just nine starts on the KFT.
Cobbs Creek comeback
The Philadelphia public golf scene is about to be rejuvenated. After years of fundraising, Cobbs Creek Golf Club—designed in 1916 by Hugh Wilson, the architect behind Merion Golf Club—is set to close at the end of the month for a $20-million restoration. The project will be funded by the Cobbs Creek Restoration & Community Foundation, which procured a new lease from the City of Philadelphia in 2018. There is a lot of work to be done, but Cobbs Creek has massive potential. When it reopens in 2023, it could be one of the very best municipal courses in the country.
For more on Cobbs Creek and the upcoming project, listen to our podcast from 2018 with Joe Bausch and Mike Cirba, two leaders in the restoration effort. Episode 106: Cobbs Creek Golf Club
It’s not at The Old Course, but there is a European Tour event in St. Andrews, Scotland, this weekend. Lee Westwood, Aaron Rai, Eddie Pepperell, and Matt Walace headline the Scottish Championship at Fairmont St. Andrews. Tee Times
The LPGA Tour is off after a busy few days at Aronimink. The ladies will tee it in Georgia next week before the season-ending events in November and December.
The Latest from The Fried Egg
Paulie’s Picks: CJ Cup at Shadow Creek – Lose track of time in the casino? Just realize there’s another PGA Tour event this week? Paulie has you covered. Check out his picks for DraftKings and one-and-done!
School of Golf Architecture, Part 5 (1): Routing with Jeff Mingay
Routing is perhaps the most important step in designing a golf course, but it’s a difficult concept for non-architects to understand. How can a regular golfer “read” the routing of a course that has already been built? Garrett explores this question with golf architect Jeff Mingay (@jeff_mingay) for the fifth edition of the School of Golf Architecture. In the first of two episodes, Garrett and Jeff discuss the basic elements of effective golf course routing—elements that any golfer can recognize during a round. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
Shotgun Start: The fake St. Andrews and a fake Cup
This Wednesday episode begins with the tale of Andy getting a speeding ticket somewhere in rural Iowa before transitioning to a Brendan apology for his grievous socks code oversight from Monday. On golf, they begin with absolute rage over the bait-and-switch nomenclature of this week’s venue, a venerable Sam Torrance design, on the European Tour. There’s a back-and-forth over whether this offense means the event will be blackballed in SGS quarters for the rest of the week. Fortunately, a late discovery of the “Gavin Zone” keeps hope alive that it will be recognized. The CJ Plaque preview touches a bit on the garish and catnip-providing Shadow Creek as well as the odd capitalization scheme for the entire event. The Speed Golf Championships get event of the week, naturally. Some one-and-done picks are made and news hits on DJ’s positive test to get you fully unprepared for the golf week ahead. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
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