PGA Tour preview: The CJ Cup @ Shadow Creek
It’s another week in Sin City on the PGA Tour, and this time, the field is loaded up on star power for the fourth-annual CJ Cup at Shadow Creek Golf Course.
No. 2 Jon Rahm, No. 3 Justin Thomas, and No. 4 Rory McIlroy join the 78-player, no-cut event, normally held at Nine Bridges in South Korea.
Rahm will enter as the favorite (+800) on Thursday, in his first action since his 23rd-place finish at the U.S. Open in September.
The CJ Cup 2020 - Winner
Thu, October 15 2020, 4:45 PM
Thomas and McIlroy (both +1000) also hop back on Tour for the first time since they tied for eighth at Winged Foot. McIlroy has never participated in The CJ Cup, while Thomas is a two-time winner and defending champion.
Last year, Thomas defeated Danny Lee by two strokes. He won the first CJ Cup in 2017 by ousting Marc Leishman in a playoff.
The only other previous champion is Brooks Koepka (+2200), who makes his return on Tour, after he withdrew from the U.S. Open because of a knee injury.
Koepka’s longtime friend and World No. 1 Dustin Johnson was expected to participate in this weekend’s event, as well, until he tested positive for COVID-19. Tony Finau, who sat out last week’s Shriners Open with a positive COVID-19 test, also withdrew from The CJ Cup.
Shadow Creek course layout and history
Johnson set the course record at Shadow Creek, back in 2015, when he shot a 65 while playing alongside Wayne Gretzky, three-time Stanley Cup champion Chris Chelios, and Justin Manacher, the vice president of marketing for Bellagio casino.
The course underwent a $17 million renovation in 2008. Before that, Fred Couples and Tiger Woods both shot a then-course record 60 in one round.
Woods will be absent at The CJ Cup, but he will defend his title at the ZOZO Championship next week in Thousand Oaks, California.
He and Phil Mickelson brought the spotlight to Shadow Creek in 2018, when they went head-to-head in the made-for-TV event, The Match: Tiger vs. Phil.
Designed by Tom Fazio, the par-72, 7,527-yard Shadow Creek course features rough around 3 ½ inches, small bentgrass greens, 74 bunkers, and nine holes with imposing water hazards.
Strokes gained tee to green and on approach are statistics to factor, as well as strokes gained putting on bentgrass.
Thomas ranked first in both strokes gained tee to green and strokes gained: approach at the conclusion of the 2019-20 PGA season. His CJ Cup victories at Nine Bridges were also on bentgrass.
Should Thomas win The CJ Cup for the third time in his career, he’ll collect 500 FedEx Cup points, plus $1.75 million of the $9.75 million purse.
You can tune into The CJ Cup Thursday through Sunday on the Golf Channel or stream on PGA Tour Live.