We had a few good finishes last week with our longshot Keegan Bradley and One-and-Done pick Xander Schauffele both finishing in the top three. Let’s see if we can carry the early season momentum into this week’s CJ Cup at Nine Bridges.
One of the main reason some players are playing this week is the massive purse in this no-cut event. The total purse is $9.25 million with a field of only 78 golfers rivaling some of the WGC purses. In terms of course history, there is not much since the PGA Tour has never played an event here. The course is absolutely immaculate and is one of the most exclusive courses in Korea. It is ranked in the top 100 in the world which was another factor that drew some of the world’s top players. The course is located on Jeju island which is known for its quick change of weather and gusty winds. I think the closet comp course for the conditions will be the Plantation Course at Kapalua.
Patrick Reed $9,500
Reed traditionally has played very well at our comp course (Kapalua) finishing first, second and sixth in his last three appearances. Reed is very good at flighting his irons and is one of the best scramblers should conditions become bad. Reed has kind of flown under the radar over the past few months while finishing second at the PGA Championship and sixth at the Dell. The greens at this course are bent grass and Reed is second on Tour in Strokes Gained Putting on bentgrass greens over the past year. At $9,500, Reed has just of good of a chance to win this week as those priced $2,000 more than him. I personally love his odds to win at 30-1 this week and 5-1 for a top five finish.
Sung Kang $8,200
Sung Kang grew up nearby on Jeju island so he will be a massive favorite with the locals this week. Kang is coming in hot too, finishing third at the CIMB. He knows how to play in the wind and is familiar with the necessary condition adjustments needed to play on Jeju island. At $8,200, I think Kang is a good value this week.
Xander Schauffele $9,800
At a course where a PGA event hasn’t been held, I often look toward guys who are in great form and excel at ball striking. In his last two starts he has finished third at the CIMB and won the Tour Championship. Xander is also fifth on Tour in Strokes Gained Putting on bentgrass over the last year. I was surprised that he was priced this low, but I will gladly take advantage of that. I look for him to be one of the highest owned players of the week.
Pieters, the 34th ranked player in the world, is a high upside play this week. When he is in form he can compete with anyone, but also is just as likely to finish near the bottom of the field. He showed some promise last week starting with rounds of 68-67 but faltered with rounds of 77-71 on the weekend. At a course that can have its par 5s dominated, Pieters has a chance to show off his length.
Schwartzel, the 31st ranked player in the world, is going under the radar this week. In a limited field and on a foreign course, I often revert to guys who know how to win and succeed in any conditions.
An is another Korean who may succeed at this track. An is a premier ballstriker who struggles on the greens. At a new course, many players will struggle not knowing the correct reads on these foreign bent grass greens so that might level the field out a bit in terms of putting acumen. An is a player you can roster for this week if your roster doesn’t reset come January.
Longshots to Win
Brian Harman 100-1 to win; 6-1 top 10
If it does get super windy, I think Harman’s odds to win increase and are miles better than 100-1. Harman is a short game wizard who can keep it in play off the tee and flight his irons under the wind. Harman has not recorded a top ten since the John Deere but I think he is a sneaky value in a small field this week.
Kyle Stanley 75-1 to win
Stanley is known as a ball striker which is a good trait to depend upon when playing a new golf course. If he can have a decent putting week, he can hang around the leaderboard and provide value at 75-1.