The CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges debuted on the PGA Tour schedule last fall. Justin Thomas was the winner, shooting 9 under in windy conditions (though all of that came during a calm first round) and defeating Marc Leishman in a playoff.
Nine Bridges in Jeju Island, South Korea, is a par-72 layout that tips out at 7,184 yards. Wind should again be a factor this year, though likely not as brutal. Still, this won’t be the birdie-fest that we saw last week in Malaysia.
Some statistics to keep an eye on (remember, CIMB and CJ Cup do not use ShotLink): strokes gained approach the green, greens in regulation, strokes gained putting, three-putt avoidance, par-5 scoring and bogey avoidance. Also, course experience should be something to heavily consider this week.
Here are my top 20 fantasy golf options for the CJ Cup:
1. Justin Thomas: Defending champion shot 9-under 63 in opening round last year at CJ Cup. Also closed last week’s CIMB Classic with final-round 64 and T-5 finish. Ranks T-15 in par-5 scoring.
2. Jason Day: Posted T-11 finish last year in South Korea behind weekend rounds of 71-71. Makes season debut this week after not posting a top-10 since the WGC-Bridgestone. Tour’s leader in SGP last season.
3. Paul Casey: Was T-19 last year at CJ Cup. Has posted two straight finishes of T-13 or better worldwide. Ranks T-17 in GIR. Has three-putted just once this season.
4. Hideki Matsuyama: Making CJ Cup debut after closing last season with five straight top-15 finishes, including two T-4s.
5. Marc Leishman: Last year’s CJ Cup runner-up is coming off a win in Malaysia. Didn’t have a top-10 before that since Byron Nelson. Has three-putted just once this season. Ranks second in par-5 scoring and third in bogey avoidance.
6. Brooks Koepka: Coming off T-7 finish at Alfred Dunhill Links. Makes CJ Cup debut this week.
7. Emiliano Grillo: Opened new season with T-2 in Malaysia and was T-40 last year in South Korea. Ranked sixth in SGATG at Safeway.
8. Gary Woodland: Fell to T-5 finish last week in Malaysia, but has still cracked top 13 in each of last three Tour starts. Was T-40 last year in South Korea. Ranks third in bogey avoidance, T-8 in par-5 scoring and T-17 in GIR. Has three-putted just once this season.
9. Louis Oosthuizen: Got back on track with T-5 last week at CIMB. Makes CJ Cup debut this week. Ranks T-15 in par-5 scoring, third in bogey avoidance and T-7 in GIR. Has three-putted just once this season.
10. Kevin Na: Solid but not spectacular recently with five top-25s in last six Tour starts. Makes CJ Cup debut this week. Leads Tour in bogey avoidance and ranks second in GIR. Has three-putted just once this season.
11. Charles Howell III: Was T-19 last year in South Korea. His T-5 at CIMB was his first top-10 since Nelson. Leads Tour in GIR, and ranks third in bogey avoidance and T-15 in par-5 scoring. Has three-putted just once this season.
12. Ben An: Was T-11 last year in South Korea, and is coming off finishes of T-8 and T-13.
13. Tyrrell Hatton: Making CJ Cup after nearly winning the Dunhill Links, where he ended up T-2.
14. Ryan Moore: CJ Cup first-timer followed T-2 finish at Safeway with T-66 at CIMB. Ranked 25th in SGATG at Safeway and has shown an improved putting stroke this fall. Has three-putted just once this season.
15. J.B. Holmes: Was T-67 last year at CJ Cup, but he has gone ninth, T-13 to open the new season. Has three-putted just twice this season.
16. Abraham Ancer: T-5 finish at CIMB was his third top-7 in last six worldwide starts. Has three-putted just once this season.
17. Sungjae Im: South Korean rookie took week off after T-4 finish at Safeway. Strong putter who was T-6 in SGP at Safeway. Has three-putted just once this season.
18. Rafa Cabrera Bello: T-11 last year in South Korea, but was T-50 last week in Malaysia. Ranks T-9 on Tour in GIR.
19. Kyle Stanley: Was T-19 last year in South Korea. Has top-15s in three of last four Tour starts. Ranks eighth in par-5 scoring.
T-20. Brandt Snedeker: Busy season so far with T-2 at Safeway and T-66 at CIMB. Makes CJ Cup debut this week, so his putting prowess might not benefit him as much. Has three-putted just once this season.
T-20. Cameron Smith: Finished third last year in South Korea, but he hasn’t done much since posting back-to-back top-3s in playoffs.