The 2022-23 PGA Tour season marches on to its fifth tournament of the season this week at the CJ Cup.
The event originated in 2017 at its home base in Nine Bridges Golf Club in Jeju Island, South Korea. The event was held at Nine Bridges through 2019 until the pandemic forced Las Vegas to stand in as the host city for a couple years. In 2020, the CJ Cup went to Shadow Creek, and last year to The Summit Club.
Covid restrictions continue to keep this event from taking place in South Korea, so it’s Congaree Golf Club’s turn to come on down and host the CJ Cup.
If Congaree sounds familiar, it’s because this South Carolina course hosted a PGA Tour event last year. The one-off Palmetto Championship was held in June 2021 to replace the Canadian Open on the schedule, which was also nixed due to pandemic restrictions.
Congaree is known for its wide corridors and short grass.
The Tom Fazio design reminds some of Australia’s sand belt style golf courses. It’s at its best when playing firm and fast, which we didn’t get to see in its full form last year.
There are lots of sandy waste areas and live oaks throughout the property.
It measures over 7,600 yards but doesn’t expect to play like a behemoth. Big hitters with big dispersion rates have some room to let loose, but shorter hitters can gain yardage on the ground as long as conditions permit.
Weather for the week looks to be cool and dry with temperatures dipping into the 40s for early tee times and peaking in the high 60s/low 70s. It doesn’t look like it’ll be too windy, but a lack of rain could add some fire.
This is a no-cut event featuring a field of 78 players. Despite the tournament relocating to the U.S., the tournament still invites three players from the Korean Tour order of merit, a player from the Asian Tour order of merit, and the top three Korean players from the OWGR who are otherwise not exempt.
There are eight sponsor’s exemptions with five going to PGA Tour members, one to a Korean amateur qualifier, and two that are unrestricted. The top 60 available players from the 2021-22 FedEx Cup standings fill the rest of the field.
The PGA Tour was in Japan last week for the ZOZO Championship. Some big names are opting for rest, while others hopped on the charter jet provided by the PGA Tour to make it to South Carolina for this one.
Many others skipped last week in prep for the CJ Cup, also.
Six of the top 10 in the Official World Golf Rankings are present, as well as 15 of the top 20.
Let’s dive into who will be doing the conga at Congaree come Sunday:
Scottie Scheffler is still No. 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings, but he’d like a nice week at the CJ Cup to remind everyone why.
The OWGR takes into account results from the last two years, so it allows for Scheffler’s mini swoon to not plummet him down the rankings.
He set the world on fire early in 2022, going from winless on the PGA Tour to becoming a four-time champion and owner of a green jacket all in the span of two months.
Scheffler nearly doubled up at the majors, getting in contention at the U.S. Open and finishing T-2nd. Surprisingly, that was as close as he’s come to a win since Augusta.
It’s not been doom and gloom for Scheffler in the last six months, but the pace he was on was unsustainable. A lot was put on his plate in a hurry.
He did post a T-3rd in August at the BMW Championship and was solo second at the Charles Schwab Challenge in May. Solid golf, just no wins.
Scheffler will try to forget a tough showing at the Presidents Cup where he went 0-3-1. Fortunately, the Americans rallied around him. In his defense, it was the 26-year-old’s Presidents Cup debut, but he went 2-0-1 at the Ryder Cup the year prior.
The former Texas Longhorn appears to have the right demeanor to let his performance at Quail Hollow roll off his back.
A reason to like him this week is his bad weeks, at least in individual stroke play events, are still pretty good. He missed just three cuts last season and finished top-25 all but seven times.
One of the few weak points in his game is driving accuracy, but that won’t be as big of a drawback at Congaree. He ranked fifth on the PGA Tour last season in total strokes gained per round (1.677) and was fourth in SG tee to green (1.475).
Scheffler led in greens in regulation (72.29%) and was second on approach from 175-200 yards (29’4”).