2017 The CJ Cup Preview and DFS Golf Picks
Course: Nine Bridges (Jeju Island, South Korea)
Yardage: 7,196 – Par 72
Purse: $9.25 M
Field: 78 players (60 from PGA TOUR, 18 from various exemptions)
*Brand new event, no past winners
Pat Perez blew away the field at the CIMB Classic, playing phenomenal golf for all four days as he coasted to a four-shot victory over Keegan Bradley. At age 41, Perez is playing the best golf of his career. The CIMB Classic marks his third PGA Tour win in his career. With his last title being early in the 2016 season, two of his three wins have come after he turned 40. Not everyone can be dominating the world at age 24 like Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth, and in his 21st year as a professional golfer, Perez seems to be comfortable with where he’s at. After his win, he made golf nutrition enthusiasts around the world cringe in an interview. “I’m still not going to work out, I’m still going to have a bad diet and enjoy myself.” You can’t argue with the results.
This week the Tour heads to Jeju Island, an island off the mainland in South Korea, for the CJ Cup. This will be another event with 78 players and no cut. Of the 78 players, 60 players in the field will be from the FedEx Cup points list, and the other 18 players will be allowed in on various exemptions. The field is a bit deeper than last week, is headlined by Justin Thomas, and Jason Day. Paul Casey, Xander Schauffele, and last week’s winner and runner-up finishers Pat Perez and Keegan Bradley will tee it up this week. Making their 2017-18 season debut this week are Adam Scott, J.B Holmes, Daniel Berger, Russell Henley, Patrick Reed and Marc Leishman. It’s not a particularly stacked field, but there is definitely some quality talent to choose from.
We have no course history to go by, so nobody from the PGA Tour will have any professional tournament history here. It’s possible some of the Korean-born players have played here before, but that would simply be speculation, and not guaranteed to be true. Nine Bridges is a short par 72 course playing slightly under 7,200 yards. The fairways are tree lined and there are a number of water hazards to be found throughout the course. This means that strokes gained: off-the-tee will be very important this week. With sixteen chances at birdie on the par 5s, par 5 scoring will separate the field this week. These shorter courses tend to be shootouts, so birdie or better % will be another stat to keep track of when picking players. Strokes gained: approach and strokes gained: putting are the final two stats to look at. These two stats translate to the most success on any given course. Can you put the ball close to the flag, and can you roll the ball in? Players who can strike the ball well and read a green that they’ve never seen before will be atop the leaderboard this week.
Birdie or better %
Par 5 scoring
Strokes gained: approach
Strokes gained: off-the tee
Top Tier 10K <
Jason Day ($10,600)
Jason Day had a down year last year considering he came into the year as the world’s number one. He did, however, finish the year with his final six tournaments all in the Top 25. With this week being his debut, he has not statistics logged yet. We know that Jason Day excels in all of the key statistics, especially strokes gained: approach and Par 5 scoring.
Xander Schauffele ($9,800)
Xander Schauffele has catapulted himself from no-name rookie to one of the regular names at the top of the leaderboard week after week. After finishing the 2017 season by winning the Tour Championship, Schauffele showed last week that his game still is very much in form finishing third in the CIMB Classic. Schauffele hits a long ball and was one of the best on Tour last year in Par 5 scoring. As a rookie, he proved that he does well on new courses, something he had to do almost every week on Tour last year.
Branden Grace ($8,100)
Branden Grace’s game is suited very well for shorter courses. He hits the ball very accurately off the tee, gaining a lot of shots there, and is a terrific putter. The South African set a major record last year at Royal Birkdale firing a 62. He’ll need that kind of firepower this week to keep up with the low scores that are going to be put up this week. Grace had somewhat of an up and down year last year, I predict a more consistent year in 2017-18 for him.
Danny Lee ($7,400) & Adam Hadwin ($7,000)
Danny Lee played a very nice tournament last week at the CIMB. A poor first round kept him from contending for the win, but he finished with a 65 and two 68s. His swing looked great, finishing in the Top 20 in the field in both driving accuracy and greens in regulation. He led the field in birdies with 27 and had two eagles during the week, so he’s feeling good on the Par 5s. Lee looks to be in good form headed into this week.
Adam Hadwin had a great start and finish to his 2016-17 season. The middle of the season was more forgettable for Hadwin. But he proved that he is one of the best players in the world when he’s right. Hadwin hasn’t missed a cut since August and should be able to outplay his low price tag. Hadwin was one of the best putters on tour last season. His iron play last week at the CIMB was very good, hitting 78 percent of greens. His putter should pick it up this week.
Sang Moon Bae & Scott Brown ($6,800)
Sang Moon Bae is playing just his second tournament since completing his mandatory two-year military service. His one tournament he didn’t fare so well shooting 73-75. I’m picking Bae as a flyer because before his service began, Bae was ranked within the Top 50 of the official world golf ranking. A native Korean, Bae may have some experience at Nine Bridges, or at least at courses similar to it.
Scott Brown was worth the pick at $6,800 last week. So as long as he’s finishing within the top half of the field, he is worth taking at the lowest price that DraftKings has to offer. Brown finished in the top half of the CIMB field last week, while losing almost an entire shot a round with the putter. His putter should straighten up a bit, as long as his swing is looking the same, he should finish in the Top 25.