THE PGA Tour moves onto South Korea this week for the 2nd leg of this newly developed Asian Swing.
The CJ Cup will consist of a smaller 78-man, no-cut field.
This is mainly to entice those players who have a long haul flight from the States, making sure they will all have 4 rounds. Oh, there’s also the ol’ nugget of a $9.25 million purse… The biggest outside of the Majors and WGC’s this season.
So, with that in mind what sort of field have we got? An outrageous one for this time of year. The likes of Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Adam Scott, Paul Casey, Marc Leishman, Charl Schwartzel and Daniel Berger are just a few stellar names joining the local favourites who will be strongly supported by a passionate Korean crowd.
Nine Bridges will be hosting the event and is a 7,196-yard par 72, often found in the top 100 lists for best courses in the world. It is a stunning track with water on over half the holes and over 100 bunkers to contend with.
No 2 holes play in the same direction, which becomes interesting with the fact it is notorious for being a windy course. Set 600 yards up Mount Halla (the tallest mountain in South Korea) the track is severely exposed to the elements and rarely does a day go by when there are high gusts of winds. So, it’ll be vital for the players and caddies to be on top of conditions and strategically knock their way round.
With a lot of rain fallen in recent weeks, the greens will be receptive and aren’t the biggest landing areas so the top wind and iron players could come to the fore this week.
Do proceed with some caution from a betting angle though as it is a new tournament on a new track, making it very difficult to find a winner! But let’s give it a go!
Daniel Berger 33/1
With wind looking like it’ll play a big part, the frontrunners Day and Thomas could dominate this track. They are both exceptional in trying conditions, but at such low odds it’s not worth going there.
Enter Daniel Berger. It’ll be his first start of the season but there was plenty of promise for the 24-year old as he gets to grips with being part of this new age elite group of stars.
He has two PGA Tour wins to his name now (both the St. Jude Classic) and followed it up with 6 top 10s and also made his Team USA debut at the Presidents Cup recently. He looked in fine fettle winning his singles match and as a classy ball striker this track could really suit him.
He is one of the best drivers in the field but more importantly an excellent wind player. He’s in the top 20 for strokes gained in windy conditions since 2014, making him a very interesting prospect this week.
Sung Kang 33/1
Sung Kang will be a popular pick amongst many this week and for good reason. He’ll be the local favourite and have unheralded support, which will either spur him on or make him fade away into the abyss. But with the fact he finished T3 last week and played some exceptional golf, this is his chance to really prove his worth.
All be it in lesser fields, his form at home is exceptional having won 2 events in recent years and he has played well on the European Tour co-sanctioned tournaments before. He’s also in top 25 for wind specialists since 2014, which makes him an absolute, no brainer in his home country.
Gary Woodland 40/1
Talking of top drivers, Gary Woodland is right up there as well. Tee-to-green the guy is an animal but has often struggled with his putter. So the fact the greens look like they’ll be receptive, his abilities could mean he’ll be attacking pins and actually holing more putts.
Last week he finished T28 but interestingly T1 for GIR across the 4 days. He will also have a shorter flight over than most so potentially has more opportunity to prepare on a new track.
His well-documented troubles look like they’re finally behind him and it’s about time he adds to his two PGA Tour victories.
Kevin Tway 150/1
Kevin Tway obviously has a lot to live up to with his famous father (Bob Tway winner of the 86’ PGA Championship) but it looks like things are going in the right direction after a decent season.
Whilst not finding top results in recent outings, he’s been consistently making cuts and it won’t be long before that translates to a higher finish. He is an absolute monster off the tee, so if he can find fairways he will only have wedges into these receptive greens.
But it’s the fact that he’s currently the number one wind specialist on tour. This entails pitching total strokes gained vs strokes gained in wind and his numbers make him the top dog, therefore meaning he’s worth a tipple at such high odds.
Nick Taylor 100/1
Nick Taylor has had a very positive start to the season with T9 and T13 finishes. Last week he was inside the top 14 for putting stats and top 25 for GIR, which is obviously a positive combination.
That sort of form bodes well for this week and it’s obvious he is trying to build up some steam early on in the year. He’s one of the top 25 wind specialists on Tour and if he can keep his ball in play from the tee he could be a real outside threat.
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