After a dramatic finish to the Zozo Championship in Japan, the PGA Tour heads back stateside for the 2022 CJ Cup in South Carolina. Hosted at Congaree Golf Club, the Tom Fazio design welcomes 15 of the top 20 players in the Official World Golf Rankings including Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm.
McIlroy plays the role of defending champion despite his victory occurring hundreds of miles away last year at The Summit Club in Las Vegas. The world No. 2 hopes to win back-to-back titles at two different venues, much like he did this past summer at the Canadian Open. If McIlroy is able to accomplish this, not only will he another tally another one in the win column, but he will also have a strong chance to reclaim the world No. 1 title if Scheffler struggles.
The two faced off most recently at the Tour Championship where Scheffler faltered on the final day of competition and relinquished the FedEx Cup crown to McIlroy. The world No. 1 then experienced a poor Presidents Cup showing at Quail Hollow Club where he garnered a 0-3-1 record. The reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year will look to get back on track in his first start of the 2022-23 season.
The Texan is not the only one making his season debut this week; Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Matt Fitzpatrick and Rahm will be kicking off their campaigns at Congaree as well. Rahm is coming off a victory at the Open de España and Fitzpatrick nearly secured a DP World Tour title of his own at the Italian Open. The two Europeans should be in contention while Spieth and Thomas look to make runs after experiencing a brilliant Presidents Cup in Charlotte.
Let's take a closer look at this week's 2022 CJ Cup in South Carolina with odds provided via Caesars Sportsbook.
Event: 2022 CJ Cup in South Carolina | Dates: Oct. 20-23
Location: Congaree Golf Club -- Ridgeland, South Carolina
Par: 71 | Yardage: 7,655 | Purse: $10,500,000
2022 CJ Cup in South Carolina field, odds
- Rory McIlroy (13/2)
- Jon Rahm (9-1): Don't look now, but Rahm learned how to putt. The former world No. 1 struggled in the early parts of 2022 with the flat stick in hand but has clearly turned a corner in recent months. Rahm has averaged +1.61 strokes gained putting over his last 15 rounds worldwide, and lapped the field in his victory at the Open de España. Coming off a down year (for his standards), if Rahm can wield the putter in such a manner, he could realistically repeat his 2021 when he captured his lone major title and was by far the best player in the world.
- Scottie Scheffler (12-1)
- Justin Thomas (14-1): The two-time major champion has captured at least one victory in seven straight seasons, but his total as of late seems light. While his two most recent triumphs were of great importance -- the 2021 Players Championship and 2022 PGA Championship -- Thomas is too strong of an iron player to go through another campaign raising only one trophy. Congaree should be an ideal fit as it boasts wide fairways, tight runoffs and will put an added emphasis on approach play where few, if any, are better.
- Sungjae Im (22-1)
- Matt Fitzpatrick (22-1): The U.S. Open winner came into 2022 swinging -- both literally and figuratively -- as speed training and added distance propelled him to a career season. Despite not playing in the U.S. since the Tour Championship, the Englishman has been getting his fair share of reps in across the pond. Playing four times in the last six weeks, Fitzpatrick arrives at Congaree off a missed cut at Valderrama where he was unable to put together a solid defense effort of his 2021 crown. He owns the skillset needed to pick apart this par 71, so it will just be a matter of whether he can bounce back from disappointing play his last time out.
- Viktor Hovland (22-1)
- Jordan Spieth (28-1)
- Cameron Young (28-1)
- Sam Burns (28-1): It was a Presidents Cup debut to forget for Burns who garnered an 0-3-2 record at Quail Hollow Club for Team USA. On the heels of a career season that included three trips to the winner's circle, the 26-year-old was unable to find his bearings in his first team event as a professional. Long off the tee and electric on the dance floor, Congaree should be a get-right spot for the Louisiana native.
- Tom Kim (30-1)
- Shane Lowry (28-1): The Irishman probably should have nabbed at least one victory during his 2021-22 PGA Tour campaign but quickly rectified his inability to close in the states with a win at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. Having the best statistical season of his career, I am interested to see how the 35-year-old will back things up, especially in a Ryder Cup year. The last time Lowry played in South Carolina, he finished T3 at the RBC Heritage where some final-round short-game troubles were his undoing.
- Collin Morikawa (30-1)
- Max Homa (30-1)
Rick Gehman is joined by Kyle Porter and Patrick McDonald to preview the 2022 CJ CUP. Follow & listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
2022 CJ Cup in South Carolina expert picks
|Winner (22-1): Hovland entered the final round of the 2022 Zozo Championship with a chance to win but ultimately finished T5. The young Norwegian is known for his struggles around the green, but he is certainly making strides in this department as he has been positive from a strokes-gained perspective in his last few starts. One of the best ball-strikers on the PGA Tour -- and an underrated putter -- Congaree could be the perfect landing spot for his biggest win to date. In his two prior starts on Fazo designs, Hovland has captured a T17 result at Caves Valley and a T3 finish at Quail Hollow Club in 2021.|
|Contender (28-1): Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups have served as launching pads for young stars, but what about seasoned veterans? Entering his 11th season on the PGA Tour, Spieth arrives in South Carolina with a mountain of momentum on his side. Garnering a 5-0-0 record at the Quail Hollow Club, his flawless Presidents Cup was on the heels of a Tour Championship which saw him gain nearly eight strokes on approach. Wide fairways, sharp iron play and creativity on and around the green are the essences of not only Spieth's game but also Congaree.|
|Sleeper (80-1): Simply put, the former Georgia Bulldog thrives in SEC country. Losing in a playoff to Mackenzie Hughes at the Sanderson Farms Championship in Mississippi, this close call followed up an ending to Straka's 2021-22 season that included a T7 finish in Atlanta and a playoff defeat in Memphis. A 72nd hole bogey saw him fall one stroke outside of a playoff the last time he stepped foot in South Carolina, and his lone victory on the PGA Tour came at the Honda Classic in Florida. He can go hot or cold in a blink of an eye, but as of right now, he is riding a heater.|
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