The PGA Tour heads to the stunning setting of Jeju Island in South Korea this week for the third edition of the CJ Cup. It is one of the newest events on the circuit but it tends to draw a strong field, as evidenced by the previous champions Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas.
Both men are set to return to action on Thursday and they are joined by Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood in what will be the strongest field this season. With a number of competitive local players involved, we are set for an exciting four days at the Nine Bridges Golf Club.
Justin Thomas (+650 with Bovada, whose odds we will quote against each player) and Brooks Koepka (+900) are the two previous winners of the CJ Cup and they are the highest ranked golfers here so it’s no surprise to see them heading the market. Brooks is the defending champion but he is a close second in the outright betting with the lingering perception that he won’t raise his game for a non-Major.
JT leads the way and the 2017 Champion is also at the head of the Power Rankings. Thomas has finished no worse than a tie for twelfth in his last seven starts and is the form player out of the two favorites. Both men should be in contention but we have seen very few short-priced golfers threatening the leaderboard so far this season.
We haven’t seen much of Tommy Fleetwood (+2000 or 20/1) on the PGA Tour in recent weeks but the Englishman has been busy in Europe and he has enjoyed some success. A tie for 5th at the Alfred Dunhill Links was his sixth top 20 finish in eight outings and he has the form to contend in South Korea.
Fleetwood is at the head of the chasing pack in the odds along with Hideki Matsuyama (16/1) and Viktor Hovland (20/1). Matsuyama’s mixed form includes three recent missed cuts while Hovland is in good shape on both sides of the Atlantic.
Also in the mid-range are two names that are seriously interesting. Rafa Cabrera Bello (25/1) has an 11th and a 3rd in the two previous editions of the CJ Cup while Sungjae Im (28/1) was born on Jeju Island and if anyone is going to harness local knowledge then this 21-year-old South Korean is the man to watch.
Also included in the chasers are Jordan Spieth and Collin Morikawa (both 25/1) but with the fields starting to strengthen, we suspect that both are in a battle for the top 10 at best.
Both of our previous CJ Cup winners are here and the two former runners up have also returned. Gary Woodland and Marc Leishman (both 28/1) are towards the front of the outside bunch and should be seriously considered for 2019. Australia’s Leishman is nicely rested after a third place at the start of the new season while Woodland has been battling through a poor run of form.
One man who is returning to form is 2016 US Masters winner Danny Willett (33/1). The Englishman dropped off the radar after that shock victory at Augusta but he is finding his touch and is a recent winner in Europe. Fellow Englishman Tyrrell Hatton (40/1) is also in decent form and he showed good stats at the CJ Cup in 2018.
The depth continues with recent Tour winner Kevin Na, Phil Mickelson, J. B. Holmes and Sergio Garcia in this pack of outsiders.
Our Preview’s CJ Cup 2019 Predictions & Picks with Course & Betting Trends
The Nine Bridges Golf Club is a par 72 at an extended 7241 yards. Strangely enough, it only has eight bridges but there are plenty of other hazards waiting along the way. Par 5 scoring was a factor last year and with the course lengthened for 2019, distance hitting could be pivotal.
GIR is another stat to look for but the greens are among the slowest on Tour.
In terms of trends, as this is only the third running of the tournament there is little established. Wins for Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka suggest we shouldn’t be looking beyond the front-runners in the 2019 CJ Cup odds but results so far this season might indicate otherwise. Remember there is no cut, so all 78 golfers will be present throughout the weekend.
Form might not back us up but the stats could be in favor of Gary Woodland who has that sound record on Jeju Island. In a season of surprise winners so far, this CJ Cup preview is backing Woodland for the win along with a range of prices in the top 10 finish markets. So these are our choice of picks at the big American odds makers: