The CJ CUP welcomes an elite field to Congaree GC this week for what is shaping up to be one of, if not the best event of the PGA’s swing season.
This will be the third consecutive year that THE CJ CUP will be played on U.S. soil after being moved in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The event was added to the PGA Tour’s schedule for the first time back in 2017 when Justin Thomas won the inaugural edition of THE CJ CUP at Nine Bridges Golf Club in South Korea. The tournament was held at Shadow Creek GC in 2020, and The Summit Club in Nevada last year.
This time around THE CJ CUP moves to the Southeast and Congaree Golf Club in Gillisonville, South Carolina. This won’t be the first time that Congaree has hosted a PGA Tour event, the Tom Fazio design hosted the Palmetto Championship last year the week before the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.
Four events into the 2022/23 PGA Tour season; and this week’s CJ CUP has attracted by far the strongest field of the new season. It will also arguably be the best field we will see until January as well, with six of the world’s top ten players in attendance per the OWGR.
World number one Scottie Scheffler, 2021 CJ CUP winner Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, 2017 winner Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland, and Jordan Spieth, are just some of the stars making the trip to South Carolina this week.
Similar to last week’s ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP in Japan, this week’s event will also feature a limited 78-man field. Once again, competitors will be guaranteed four rounds of action as they look to claim the 1.8 million dollar prize on offer for the winner of THE CJ CUP.
Tom Fazio’s Congaree Golf Club is a lengthy 7,655-yard, Par 71 design. The unique layout is significantly different from what players will see week in and week out during the PGA Tour season.
Congaree plays into the area’s natural topography and much like what was seen at Kiawah Island during the 2021 PGA Championship, the design features plentiful natural waste areas that will challenge players’ scrambling skills all week.
The lengthy layout features four Par 3s, eleven Par 4s, and three Par 5s. Congaree should provide a solid examination of a player’s overall skillset this week.
With five top-10 finishes in his last five starts around the world; it is of little surprise to see Rory McIlroy’s name as the oddsmakers favorite coming into the week. Here is a look at how the rest of the favorites shake out over on WynnBet this week.
THE CJ CUP Favorites
(Odds courtesy of WynnBet. **Odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.**)
- Rory McIlroy (+700)
- Jon Rahm (+900)
- Scottie Scheffler (+1200)
- Justin Thomas (+1400)
- Matt Fitzpatrick (+2000)
- Sungjae Im (+2200)
- Viktor Hovland (+2200)
- Jordan Spieth (+2500)
- Shane Lowry (+2500)
- Tom Kim (+2500)
Pick to Top 20: Jason Day (+200)
The Australian’s name doesn’t flash near the top of leaderboards very often these days with the world’s former number-one ranked player a long way off from the player that he once was.
Having said all of that, there are some positive signs that Day may have his game trending in the right direction this week at a locale that should suit him perfectly.
The twelve-time PGA Tour winner secured an 8th place finish at the Shriners Children’s Open a couple of weeks ago in what was his second start of the new season. Jason was sharp in pretty much every measured aspect, gaining strokes from tee to green, off the tee, and on approach where he gained over five strokes with his irons at TPC Summerlin.
Day will be making his first appearance at Congaree this week and it would be of little surprise if it was a locale that he fell in love with. According to Data Golf, Congaree shares a strong correlation with Quail Hollow Club in North Carolina, a place where the Australian has had great success throughout the years.
If he can keep the momentum going with his irons and blend it with his historically superb short game; Day should do well at THE CJ CUP.
Pick to Top 10: Shane Lowry (+240)
After narrowly missing out on a place at last season’s Tour Championship, Shane Lowry proceeded to win in his very next start at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth on the DP World Tour.
The Irishman endured multiple close calls on the PGA Tour during the 2021-22 season and even though it felt like it was only a matter of time before Lowry won again, that moment never came, at least on the PGA Tour.
The 2019 Open Champion finished last season on Tour ranking 9th in Strokes Gained: Approach and 22nd in Strokes Gained: Tee to green. He has traditionally been one of the best short-game players on Tour as well.
Lowry should come into this season’s CJ CUP full of confidence after his win a couple of starts ago and he will be relishing the opportunity to play in the Carolinas once again.
Shane has multiple top-10 finishes at the RBC Heritage throughout his career and he finished T4 at the PGA Championship at Kiawah in 2021. The six-time career winner is primed for another great week in this part of the country on a course that suit his game well.
Pick to Win: Jordan Spieth (+2500)
Jordan Spieth will be making his first start of the new season this week, but he is coming off of an incredible performance at the Presidents Cup.
Alongside partner Justin Thomas, Spieth put together an excellent 4-0-0 record across both Foursomes and Four-Ball formats. He then topped it all off with his first win in a singles match for the United States on the global stage.
Jordan won in the state of South Carolina this past season on the PGA Tour at the 2022 RBC Heritage and even though this will be his first appearance at Congaree, it is a place that should set up well for him.
The three-time major winner finished last season ranked 31st in Strokes Gained: Approach and unsurprisingly 27th in Strokes Gained: Around the green. What is a surprise was Jordan’s struggles with the putter last season on Tour, Spieth ranked 155th in that department.
The 29-year-old seems to have corrected that heading into the new season, however, after an excellent performance on the greens at the Presidents Cup.
Congaree GC has been known to share some similarities with course designs in Australia, if that is the case it should bode well for Spieth who is a two-time winner of the Emirates Australian Open.
Even though he is making his first start of the new season this week, Jordan’s performance at the Presidents Cup is enough to suggest that he could win again very soon, and I like his chances of accomplishing that this week.