It was a tough grind for our guys last week at Valderrama where all five tips along with the rest of the field were seemingly playing a different track to Adrian Otaegui who won with a score of -19 and was 6 shots clear of 2nd place.
Jordan Smith battled the course hard on his Sunday round to earn the preview a tie for 6th place, putting us slightly down for the week, but when you get a result out of Valderrama it always feels like a bonus.
We leave the DP World Tour for a week and move onto the PGA Tour for the first preview of their 2022/2023 season. It has involved 3 tournaments currently so we can start to get a feel for who has started the season well and who hasn’t.
The CJ Cup Betting Odds
Now attention turns to The CJ Cup - making its debut at South Carolina’s Congaree Golf Club located deep in the south of the state.
During the last two years, The CJ Cup has been rotated between the Summit Club and Shadow Creek GC, both being in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Congaree Golf Club was first used on the PGA Tour last year in 2021 to host the newly formed Palmetto Championship. This championship was bought onto the PGA Tour schedule of last year in quite a hurry when the Canadian Open was postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions. So, the Tour filled the gap with the Palmetto Championships held at Congaree.
Congaree GC was only founded in 2017/2018 so the designs are somewhat fresh and easy on the eye, but they sure will challenge the guys a lot this week.
Congaree Golf Club
- Par 71, 7655 yards approx.
- Tom Fazio design
- Fairways/Greens – Bermuda grass
- Hardly any rough present this week, sand/wasteland areas lurk off of these fairways
- 13 holes with water present
- Wide fairways
- Large elevate greens with short/sharp run offs surrounding them
- 4 x Par 3s – ranging from 148-231 yards
- 11 x Par 4s – ranging from 342-495 yards (8/11 over 440 yards, 6/11 above 450)
- 3 x Par 5s – 565, 566 and 573 yards
Congaree Golf Club is an absolute brute of a course for the players to face this week, which will be for most the time they have seen the place competitively before.
Since tipping golfers on Twitter and indeed writing this preview I have only ever seen two golf courses set up to this length. Kapalua - when it hosted the PGA Championships in 2020 when Phil Mickelson was victorious - and Corales Golf Club in Puntacana, Dominican Republic. Both of those courses are set up at over 7600 yards, so players aren’t exposed to this length that often.
Quite interestingly Corales GC is also designed by Mr. Tom Fazio himself and a couple of players that finished 2nd here last year have either won or come close at Corales before, so a quick glance at the form over there won’t go a miss for sure.
Talking of correlating tracks, this course set up is very similar to that seen at Albany GC in the Bahamas which plays host to the Hero Challenge every year, The Albany course plays long and their fairways are surrounded by sandy wasteland areas just like Congaree does so an eye over the players form there may prove valuable too.
Garrick Higgo -11
- 13th OTT
- 22nd DD
- 8th T2G
- 11th APP
- 3rd GIR
- 51st SCR
- 15th Putting
Garrick Higgo's 11 under par is extremely low for a PGA Tour event Weather wasn’t a hindering factor here, the course just dug its toes in as the heat got unbearable in South Carolina. The course baked out and resulted in it almost becoming impossible to hold some of these green in regulation.
That type of heat isn’t uncommon in these parts of the deep South. This week however temperatures will range from around 21-27 degrees throughout the four days and wind gusts will not get higher than 12mph. At this stage, the weather does not seem as demanding as it was last year.
Stats to Consider
- SG: OTT
- SG: T2G/GIR
- Consistent putters on Bermuda/large, undulating greens
- Par 4 performance 450 yards+
Yes the fairways are wide this week so accuracy off the tee will not really be tested this week, but the right positions need to be found off the tee. If the ball catches the wrong side of these undulating fairways, then the guys will find their tee shots caught up in the sandy waste areas off these fairways. A good tee shot will be need to set the holes up if they are going to score well.
7 out of the top 10 in the leaderboard of the 2021 Palmetto Championships all finished in the top 15 for SG: T2G that week. With the above taken into consideration regarding the tee shot and then the players facing the test of hitting their approaches into these elevated greens, having a sharp T2G and finding these surfaces in regulation will be vital in maximizing chances.
7 out of the top 10 in the leaderboard of the 2021 Palmetto Championships all finished in the top 10 for Scrambling that week, a trim short game here last year shown to be even more critical than a good T2G game. Players will find themselves off the greens this week in the well mown run off areas and they will find themselves caught up in the waste areas, they will rely and need these short game skills to get up and down to save crucial shots.
On a course where the greens are not only large and undulating but scoring will be tough and scrambling numbers will be high, then a good flat stick to bail the guys out will be needed throughout their 4 rounds.
Par 4s over 450 yards
And finally, as I have mentioned in the course facts above 6 out of the 11 par 4s the guys will face this week will be above 450 yards and in fact 8 out of the 11 will be over 440 yards, not a huge difference but still long par 4s, players that constantly navigate these type of holes well regularly will be at the fore front of our selections for sure.
The CJ Cup Prediction
With 15 out of the top 20 players in the OWGR teeing it up this week with Rory McIlroy in with a chance of stealing the Number 1 spot, there are a lot of solid options and some good prices, I have narrowd it down to a team of 5. All each way and with 8 places unless stated in brackets. Good luck again all! Let’s keep the winnings going!
- Scottie Scheffler 18/1 (3 places)
- Jordan Speith 25/1
- Tom Hoge 45/1
- Christiaan Bezuidenhout 80/1
- Ryan Palmer 150/1