This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
THE CJ CUP @ SUMMIT
Course: The Summit Club (7,431 yards, par 72)
Winner: $1,755,000 and 500 FedExCup points
In it's short history, the CJ Cup has become one of the most prestigious regular tournaments on the PGA Tour. The 78-man, no-cut event features a very large purse given the limited nature of the field. This is very likely to be the best field of any PGA Tour event during the fall portion of the schedule. For the second consecutive year, the CJ Cup will be played in Las Vegas due to the travel restrictions created by COVID-19. This time around it will be held at the Summit Club as opposed to Shadow Creek where Jason Kokrak broke through for his first career victory. Collin Morikawa will be playing a bit of a home game as he is a member at the Summit Club and is coming off an impressive 3-0-1 showing at the Ryder Cup. The plan is for the CJ Cup to return to South Korea in 2022 and beyond as part of the PGA Tour's Asian swing which features next week's Zozo Championship in Japan.
Justin Thomas will be looking to claim victory in this event for the third time after winning the inaugural playing of the CJ Cup in 2017 then following it up with another win in 2019 at Nine Bridges. Thomas will also begin his full-time partnership with long-time Phil Mickelson caddie Jim "Bones" Mackay this week. Mackay has filled in for Thomas' previous caddie, Jimmy Johnson, in the past and the duo picked up a victory back at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in August of 2020. Thomas is one of nine U.S. Ryder Cup team members that will be in the field this week. World No. 1 Jon Rahm has decided to skip this event in favor of playing on the European Tour in his home country of Spain. Overall, 12 of the top-15 in the OWGR will be in the field at the Summit Club. Two players who are knocking on the door of that top-15 are Sam Burns and Sungjae Im. Both are in great form having won the last two events, respectively.
Expect another shootout this week in the desert. The Summit Club is a more challenging course than TPC Summerlin, but the winds will be significantly down from what we saw a few days ago. Temperatures should rise from the low-70's on Thursday to the low-80's on Sunday.
Key Stats to Victory
- SG: Approach
- GIR Percentage
- SG: Off-the-Tee
- Putts per GIR
The Summit Club is just six miles south of TPC Summerlin. 46 of the 78 in the field this week teed it up a week ago at the Shriners Open. Unlike TPC Summerlin, the Summit Club features rough that should be around twice as long as what the players faced last week. That should place a little more emphasis on keeping the ball in the fairway. Due to the elevation, the course should play well shorter than its 7,431 yards on the card. With limited wind, players will be able to attack these average sized greens fairly easily. The name of the game for this shootout will be hitting it close and sinking putts. The bentgrass greens are set to run around 12 feet on the Stimpmeter. Typically on a new course like this, things shift to the ball-strikers as many players have yet to see these unfamiliar putting surfaces. All lengths of player should be able to compete here due to the elevation and increased rough.
FanDuel Value Picks
Justin Thomas ($11,900)
Thomas should have a little extra spark this week with Jim "Bones" Mackay on the bag. Thomas is a two-time winner of this event and is such a strong iron player. Last season he led the PGA Tour in proximity to the hole from the fairway and was top-three in both SG: Approach and SG: Tee-to-Green.
Collin Morikawa ($11,500)
Morikawa has the advantage of not having to learn the course this week, allowing him to just focus on his game. The former Cal standout is a member at the Summit Club and has shot a 10-under 62 at the course. Morikawa is the best iron player in the world and should be able to create plenty of birdie opportunities this week.
Sungjae Im ($10,700)
Im won for the second time on the PGA Tour last week at TPC Summerlin where led paced the field in both GIR's and scrambling. He loves birdie fests which we should see again this week in great conditions. Im is as strong as any 23-year-old in recent memory all the way through the bag.
Scottie Scheffler ($10,400)
Scheffler laid an egg last week in his first start after his first Ryder Cup appearance. It puts him with great value this week, however, in a limited field event where he has performed so well in the past. Last season he placed 2nd, 5th, and 14th in the three limited field WGC events. Other than Jon Rahm, nobody is a better combination of length and accuracy off the tee than Scheffler.
Longer Shots with Value
Tyrrell Hatton ($9,600)
Hatton is coming off another strong showing at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship a couple weeks ago when he shared second. Hatton is a terrific all around player, as last season he ranked 13th in SG: Approach, 18th in SG: Tee-to-Green, 19th in sand saves, 20th in total driving, and 19th in putts per GIR. The Englishman finished T3 in this event last season.
Marc Leishman ($9,100)
Leishman is off to a great start this season after a T4 at the Fortinet Championship and a T3 at the Shriners Children's Open. He ranks 19th in SG: Approach, second in SG: Putting, first in birdie average, and second in scoring average. With many players in this field coming in cold, Leishman presents great value as someone already in mid-season form.
Talor Gooch ($8,800)
Gooch is another player with a great start to the new season going having notched a T4 in Napa and a T11 last week at TPC Summerlin. Gooch currently ranks 14th in SG: Approach, third in SG: Around, fourth in SG: Tee-to-Green, and 24th in putts per round. He is trending towards that elusive first career PGA Tour win and was solo fifth at Shadow Creek last year.
Harold Varner III ($8,700)
Varner has been one of the most underrated ball-strikers over the course of the last two seasons. The putter has been the one thing that has consistently let him down, however, but early in the 2021-22 campaign it has been red-hot which is why he has gone T16-T11. Varner is currently sixth in SG: Putting, first in one-putt percentage, and second in putts per round.
Strategy Tips This Week
Based on a Standard $60K Salary Cap
It's an interesting dynamic this week. Most of the players that are $9,500 and up are either making their first or second start of the season, while many of the players below that are making start three or four in some cases. Rust, or in some cases an emotional let down coming off the Ryder Cup, if a very real thing that we all need to consider. We saw it first hand for players like Brooks Koepka, Scottie Scheffler, and Harris English last week. With the CJ Cup being a limited field with no cut, I think that takes a bit of that out of the equation, however. There's nobody at the top of the salary board that screams avoid to me this week, but like I mentioned in the profile the best move is to lean on strong iron players that will give themselves plenty of chance on unfamiliar putting surfaces.