There cannot be many PGA Tour events that have only been hosted in South Korea and Las Vegas, but this week's CJ Cup at Summit is one of them. After the first three iterations of this event were held at Nine Bridges on Jeju Island in Korea, the last two have been held in Vegas. Last year's tournament took place at Shadow Creek, and this year's — where Jason Kokrak is the defending champion and most of the best players in the world will be teeing it up — will be played at the Summit Club.
Let's take a closer look at this week's contest with odds provided via Caesars Sportsbook.
Event: CJ Cup at Summit | Dates: Oct. 14-17
Location: The Summit Club -- Las Vegas, Nevada
Par: 72 | Purse: $9.75 million
Three things to know
1. Premier fall event: A quick glance at the fall slate, and it's easy to see that this is the event of the last three months. Though next week's Zozo Championship in Japan has a bigger purse and a better defending champion (Patrick Cantlay), it will be played in Japan and travel will likely be sparse from the biggest stars in the sport. So this no-cut, limited-field event serves as the jewel of the nine-tournament PGA Tour schedule this fall, and it has the field (see below) to back it up.
2. J.T. time: This is generally the portion of the year when Justin Thomas thrives. He's won this tournament two of the four times it has been played (although both were at Nine Bridges), and five of his first 11 wins on the PGA Tour took place in September, October or November. He has not had a great 2021, although he did come on strong at the end of last season with top-five finishes in two of his last three and elite tee-to-green play in all three. His Ryder Cup was decent (not dominating), but expectations remain sky high for the 14-time PGA Tour champion.
3. Home games: As Stephen Hennessey pointed out, Collin Morikawa is a member of Summit Club, and given the wide-open fairways this golf course presents, could certainly benefit from this tournament turning into an iron play contest. I'm not sure what to expect from him. He was low-key bad during the FedEx Cup Playoffs, although hampered by a back injury, but then he may have been the single best player at the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits. One sub-story of this season is whether Morikawa can overtake Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm to become the No. 1 player in the world. Winning the CJ Cup for what would be his sixth win in 56 PGA Tour tournaments would be a very good start toward that.
Grading the field
It includes seven of the top 10 players in the world and 20 of the top 25. Jon Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Cantlay are the only players in the top 15 that will not be at Summit Club this week, which means we get our first look at Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele, Tony Finau, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Morikawa and J.T. since the Ryder Cup. An elite field for what should be an awesome event. Grade: A
2021 CJ Cup at Summit picks
|Winner (25-1): Hovland is gaining nearly 2.0 strokes per round over his last 20 rounds when you combine approach play and driving. He's been terrible on and around the greens, but I'm willing to overlook that because I get good value on somebody who is absolutely flushing the golf ball. He bumped that to 2.7 last week at the Shriners but struggled mightily with his around-the-green play. That's much easier to correct than it is for folks who are not dialed in from distance, and his mixture of accuracy and length off the tee is what I want at this event.|
|Top 10 (+125): As I noted above, it's J.T. season. He's also been flushing it, and nobody in this field has been better with their iron play over the last 20 rounds. I don't worry about his short game like I do with Hovland, but I do worry about a putter that's been very hit-and-miss for most of 2021. Whether he wins will likely depend on that, but from tee to green, he should have enough to finish in the top 10, even in a strong field like this one.|
|Sleeper (60-1): Henley finished T3 at this event last year (on a different course), but he led the field last week at Shriners in iron play -- by a decent margin -- and has been great from tee to green over the last few months (as he often is). His 60-1 number is not too long, but it's still playable even at this event with so many massive champions.|
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