The CJ Cup returns and the big names are out in force for one of the richest tournaments on the PGA Tour.
With almost $10m in prize money and a limited field with no cut, the tournament sees season debuts from players such as Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa. The course looks set to give up plenty of birdies so we should see a fantastic weekend of action in Las Vegas.
The tournament was scheduled to be held in South Korea but for the second year in a row it has been moved due to issues with coronavirus. Shadow Creek has never held a PGA Tour event before but we can get some clues from other Tom Fazio designed layouts — the most recent of which being the BMW Championship where Patrick Cantlay and Bryson DeChambeau battled it out in one of the most memorable tournaments of the past few years.
Round 1 tee-times at THE CJ CUP @ SUMMIT 🇺🇸
— Hambric Sports (@Hambric_Sports) October 13, 2021
While there is no course form to go on from previous tournaments, there is a standout player who calls Shadow Creek home — Morikawa. He is based out of the Las Vegas club and will know the course better than anybody. While that can sometimes be overrated, at a course where others will have little or no experience at all, it is a huge head start for the two-time major champion. He is the best iron player in the world and that will be valuable here on a course that does not offer many issues elsewhere. 14/1 makes him joint second favourite but he may be hard to overlook, even at a pretty short price.
Dustin Johnson leads the market and it is pretty easy to see why and even at 12/1 he is very backable. He has an excellent record at Fazio courses and he comes in on the back of his phenomenal 5-0 record at the Ryder Cup. Like the other tournaments that have started the 21/22 season, it is essential to be able to make lots and lots of birdies and he can do that as well as anybody. With his big hitting and much-improved putting, he could crush this course that shouldn’t offer too many challenges. Johnson has the chance to reclaim the world number one spot with Jon Rahm playing on the European Tour. He doesn’t tend to need any extra motivation but If he does, that will be it.
#OWGR projection for week #42:
CJCup @ ~ 68p
Valderrama @ ~30/32p
DJ could reach #1
Collin, Xander #2
Louis, BK #5
English, Spieth, Abe, Rory, Viktor, Hatton, Burns, Hideki #8
Reed, Scheffler, Im, CamSmith, Casey, Webb #9
— Nosferatu (@VC606) October 11, 2021
Another star of that Ryder Cup was Xander Schauffele. There is a case to be made that his form over the first two days was better than anybody in Wisconsin. Like Johnson, he is a birdie machine when on form and he looks destined to win a major in the near future. While this is not a major, it has the feel of one with a stacked field, and Schauffele has already beaten these sort of groups before with victories in the Tour Championship and WGC. 14/1 is not a huge price but with the exception of Jason Kokrak a year ago, this event has gone to the favourites in the previous three editions with two wins for Justin Thomas and one for Brooks Koepka. He was handed the keys to the city this week and what better way to celebrate than with another big win on the PGA Tour?
NEW: Xander Schauffele will be presented with the Keys to the City by Las Vegas Mayor, Carolyn Goodman.
Presentation will be 4pm today on the 18th Green at Summit Club.
— Rick Gehman (@RickRunGood) October 12, 2021
No player is in better form than Sam Burns. His worst finish in his past six events is 21st and he has a win and a runner-up in that run. He had his first win in May and has not looked back since. As mentioned already, these early tournaments have required low scoring and he has been right there in all of them. At 28/1 he may offer better value than those ahead of him in the market. In these events where the scoring is so low we can see some outsiders come through. While the 25-year-old is far from an unknown here, it is a step up in class but do not be surprised to see him make it a third win in five months.
While this does feel like a tournament for the favourites, it may be worth a look at Australian Marc Leishman. He has a great record in these sort of fields and his two starts this season have seen him finish fourth and third in last week’s event.