For the second week running, the PGA Tour is in Las Vegas, and this time it’s the turn of the Summit Club, where the CJ Cup will be played for the first time. Many of the recent Ryder Cup players return to action this week, with the likes of Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrell Hatton, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson and Xander Schäuffele all set to feature in the desert.
CJ Cup General Information:
- Date: October 14th – October 17th
- TV-Time: 5:00 p.m. ET, Golf Channel
- Venue: The Summit Club
- Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
- Prize Money: $9,750,000 ($1,755,000 1st Place)
- Winner last year: Jason Kokrak
Tournament, Conditions & Course Info
Added to the PGA Tour Schedule back in 2017, the CJ Cup is one of three yearly events that now take place in Asia, though due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s renewal will be stateside.
Format wise, things are slightly different this week. 78 players will compete. The highest ranked Korean from the Asian Tour features, as do five players from the KPGA, alongside the top three ranking Koreans in world golf. The rest of the spaces are then filled by the best players according to the 2020-21 FedEx Cup standings.
Another gem from the Tom Fazio collection, the Summit Club opened only four years ago. A Par 72 that measures out at 7,431 yards, the course is set in Red Rock Canyon. The fairways are wide and thus should be relatively easy to attack, but undulating and cunningly positioned greens may not be the easiest to find, so approach is likely to be key.
Expert Pick #1 – Cameron Smith Top 10 Finish @+350
Cameron Smith has a bit of a habit of playing well at this time of year. In 2020, from early October to the middle of December, the Aussie posted finishes of T24, 11th, T4, T2 and T8, while he has what looks to be a game that should be suited to this venue.
With the fairways easy to hit and distance not likely to be key, the Par 5’s are expected to be important at The Summit Club, and Smith is the man when it comes to a Par 5. Nobody scored better on the PGA Tour (on average) than Cameron Smith on the Par 5’s last season, while he’s something of a demon putter, which has to be a huge positive ahead of a tournament at a Fazio course where the greens won’t be easy. In this field, only five players gained more strokes with the putter last season, so don’t be surprised if Smithy rolls his way into contention in the desert.
Fedex Cup Rank: 14 | Fedex Cup Points: – | OWGR: 24
Expert Pick #2 – Harris English @+350
Another player that thrived during the fall last season, Harris English rates as an excellent top-ten candidate this week. The man from Valdosta, Georgia has racked up no fewer than nine top ten in little over a year, six of which came between September and December last year.
Like Smith, English is a man capable of tearing it up on the Par 5’s, so it would be little surprise if he was to score heavily on the rather gettable longer holes on offer this week. Interestingly, only Smith and Schauffele ranked above Harris English in terms of Par 5 scoring average on the PGA Tour last season, which is not something to ignore. Something else that we shouldn’t overlook is the 32-year-old’s ability on the greens. He’s the seventh-best in this field for strokes gained: putting, and it is what he can do with the putter that should hold him in good stead in Nevada.
Fedex Cup Rang: – | Fedex Cup Points: – | OWGR: 11
Expert Pick #3 – Justin Rose Top 10 Finish @+450
Justin Rose has become something of a forgotten man in recent times. He failed to make the Ryder Cup team by default and was surprisingly omitted from the captain’s picks. However, the Englishman is still a top golfer. He showed that when going mightily close at The Masters back in April, while his game looked in good shape when last seen on the PGA Tour, finishing T10 at the Wyndham Championship back in mid-September. He also finished sixth in the UK after that, where he ranked second for strokes gained: approach, which bodes well ahead of four rounds on this approach-demanding track.
Based on the previous form shown by Rose, this venue really could suit. He likes desert conditions, while he has lots of pleasing form in general on the west coast of America, having posted plenty of top-ten finishes before. At slightly chunky odds, the one-time major winner looks like a much better top-ten bet than a selection of players at stingier prices.
Fedex Cup Rang: – | Fedex Cup Points: – | OWGR: 44
2021 CJ Cup Odds
*Odds as of Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. ET
Driving the ball with accuracy shouldn’t be too important at The Summit Club. where the fairways are generous in terms of width and not hard to find. THose who do well will almost certainly blitz the Par 5’s, so expect big things from players such as Cameron Smith and Harris English, who are known Par 5 experts, while putting well on undulating greens that aren’t easiest to navigate is going to be critical too. Again, someone like Smith, who is anything but poor with the putter, should be at an advantage, and look out for Justin Rose, who ticks a few boxes and may just increase his relevance once again by getting his name up near the top of the leaderboard.