The PGA Tour heads to South Korea for the inaugural CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges.
Of course, new tournament means new course and no past history. So what can players expect from The Club at Nine Bridges?
The course, located on Jeju Island and sitting at 3,500 feet above sea level, will play as a par 72 and tip out at 7,196 yards this week. There is plenty of water and bunkering throughout the 18 holes, and all the grass is bentgrass. The course is scorable, but wind could be a factor.
Among PGA Tour courses, the best comparison for Nine Bridges is Kapalua.
Key stats to consider this week: strokes gained-tee to green, greens in regulation, par-5 scoring and par breakers.
Here are my top 25 fantasy-golf options for the CJ Cup:
1. Tony Finau: In last three Tour starts, he has gone T-7, T-7 and second. Ranks third on Tour in SGTTG and T-4 in par-5 scoring.
2. Justin Thomas: Finished T-17 in his bid to three-peat at the CIMB Classic. Won at Kapalua last January, so this type of course suits him.
3. Jason Day: Ended his 2016-17 campaign with seven straight finishes of T-27 or better, including three top 10s. When he’s on, has the tee-to-green and short game to overpower a course like this.
4. Paul Casey: Continues to be a model of consistency, yet can’t win. Was T-7 at CIMB, his ninth top-13 finish in his last 10 starts. Ranks T-3 on Tour in par breakers.
5. Xander Schauffele: Started new season nearly how he finished last one; T-3 at CIMB after winning Tour Championship. Ranks T-1 in par-5 scoring, T-4 in GIR and T-11 in par breakers.
6. Rafa Cabrera Bello: Recorded his first top-10 since the British Open in Malaysia, where he was T-10. Ranks T-9 in GIR and T-11 in par breakers.
7. Keegan Bradley: Trying to get back into world’s top 50, and his runner-up at CIMB helped. Ranks eighth in SGTTG, 15th in GIR and 16th in par breakers. More importantly, he’s playing with confidence again.
8. Pat Perez: Turned run of three straight top-16s into a win in Malaysia. Tied for the Tour lead so far in GIR, hitting 86.11 percent of his greens in regulation. Second in par breakers.
9. Russell Henley: Gained some momentum with T-3 at East Lake. Now, makes season debut at a course that should suit his style of hitting fairways and greens and making some putts.
10. Gary Woodland: Has seemed to play better than score has indicated. Was T-28 in Malaysia. Tied for the Tour lead so far in GIR, hitting 86.11 percent of his greens in regulation, and can score on the par 5s.
11. Chez Reavie: T-17 or better in four of last five starts. Just cracked the world’s top 100, too. Ranks 20th in SGTTG.
12. Marc Leishman: Saw late-season momentum take a hit with T-24 finish at Tour Championship and lackluster showing at the Presidents Cup. Still should contend.
13. Stewart Cink: T-13 at CIMB followed T-27 at BMW and 12th at Dell. Ranks T-7 in GIR and T-8 in par breakers.
14. Anirban Lahiri: Loves TPC Kuala Lumpur and it showed with his T-10 finish, his second straight top-10 worldwide. Ranks T-11 in par breakers.
15. Patrick Cantlay: This season figures to have much in store for the young Cantlay. No reason it can’t start this week. He has four straight top-20s on Tour entering Nine Bridges.
16. Cameron Smith: T-12 at the BMW and then T-5 at CIMB. Young Aussie loves to play aggressive and go low. Ranks T-3 in par breakers.
17. Patrick Reed: Making season debut after last teeing it up in Presidents Cup. T-13 in last start, at East Lake. Should have no trouble around these greens.
18. Ollie Schniederjans: Streaky player showing signs of breaking out – T-17 at Safeway, T-23 at CIMB.
19. Adam Scott: Typically is the ballstriker needed to contend on a course like this, but hasn’t had the best of years. Hasn’t found the top 10 on Tour since Memphis in June.
20. Sung Kang: Along the South Korea natives in the field this week, Kang arguably has the best chance to win. T-3 last week at CIMB.
21. Kyle Stanley: Nothing better than T-20 since winning at Quicken Loans National, but was T-21 in Malaysia, and is known for his ballstriking. Ranks T-4 in GIR.
22. Graham DeLaet: Followed T-5 at Safeway with T-54 at CIMB, but still ranks fourth in SGTTG.
23. Danny Lee: Broke out of his slump with T-7 finish at CIMB. Leads Tour in par breakers.
24. Luke List: Really feel like he’s close to contending on Tour. Was T-13 at CIMB and made it all the way to BMW last season.
25. Bud Cauley: Another player who followed strong Safeway showing (T-7) with poor outing in Malaysia (67th). Does rank 17th in SGTTG.