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The CJ Cup: Odds and picks for this week's action at Shadow Creek

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October 14th, 2020

A week after Martin Laird won the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, we are back in Las Vegas for The CJ Cup at Shadow Creek. Now I have already gushed about how much I love Vegas in this column before, but Shadow Creek is on another level.

To play at Shadow Creek you must stay at the MGM Grand, and a limousine brings you to and from the course, which is a 30-minute drive. You have to arrive by limo, there is no other access! The green fees are an eye-watering $600, but you get drinks brought to you on the fairways, and it pales in comparison to the rumoured $40 million that was spent on building the course in the middle of the desert.

So, MGM Grand, limo ride, drinks on the course? Count me in! Unfortunately, I won’t be playing this weekend, or indeed ever, but I have have found some betting props for this week's event that are worth backing.

The CJ Cup 2020 - Winner

Thu, October 15 2020, 2:00 PM

Jon Rahm

+800

Justin Thomas

+1000

Rory McIlroy

+1000

Xander Schauffele

+1200

Matthew Wolff

+1600

Tyrrell Hatton

+2000

Patrick Cantlay

+2000

Collin Morikawa

+2000

Brooks Koepka

+2200

Hideki Matsuyama

+2500

I usually like to back up my picks with some course-related trends and stats, but The CJ Cup is usually played on Jeju Island in South Korea, and the only look at Shadow Creek we have had is when Tiger and Phil played their mega-money exhibition there in 2018. Each pick is a bit more of a risk than usual but as they say, when in Vegas…

Group B winner: Matthew Wolff (+330)

Wolff is barely old enough to gamble in Vegas, but he is in some unstoppable form on the golf course and has to make up my staking plan this week. He has started this season by finishing runner-up at the U.S. Open and then again at the Shriners in Vegas last week. That comes off the back of a Top 5 finish in the PGA Championship and a Top 20 finish in the BMW Championship in August.

He ranks second on Tour for shots gained this season, and has been in irresistible form around the greens.

Patrick Cantlay was eighth last week, but that was his only Top 10 finish in his last seven tournaments, while Brooks Koepka is returning after two months after rehabbing his left knee and left hip so he may need to blow the rust off. Colin Morikawa is a beast, but has missed his last two cuts and although Tyrell Hatton won the BMW Championship last weekend, I expect those exploits to have taken a little out of him before he has to travel to Sin City.

With all that in mind, Wolff is a good bet for Group B.

Top Canadian player: Mackenzie Hughes (+185)

Hughes is in some solid recent form, and although he is the favorite in this market, I’m still surprised the price is as tempting as it is. Although he missed the cut by a single shot in the U.S. Open, Hughes had Top 15 finishes at The Northern Trust, BMW Championship, and Tour Championship before finishing third at the Corales Puntacana Resort Championship at the end of last month.

The other standout point is that Hughes won the RSM Classic at the Seaside Course at Sea Island in 2017.

Both the Seaside course and the Corales course are designed by Tom Fazio, the same man that created Shadow Creek. That could prove to be a handy pointer towards Hughes at the end of the week.

Top Australian player: Cameron Smith (+185)

Brace yourselves – I’m dipping back into the Top Aussie market! But do not fear, I’m against Jason Day for once.

Smith has been solid, if unspectacular, in recent months with four Top 25 finishes in his last six events. Although there weren’t any fireworks there, he has shown a level of consistency that means he’d only need a couple of tweaks to put in a potential Tour-winning effort.

He finished 12th in the 2017 BMW Championship at Conway Farms which was a Fazio-designed course, and he can topple Jason Day and Marc Leishman here to be the top Aussie.

Top GB and IRE player: Rory McIlory (+200)

Like Hughes, McIlroy is a favorite in this prop market but one I want to be on side with. He has flashed glimpses of his true brilliance finishing 12th in the BMW Championship, eighth in the Tour Championship, and then eighth again in the U.S. Open in his last three appearances.

We can expect more of Rory here, considering he boasts finishes of first, fourth, 22nd, 16th, and eighth in his last five years at Quail Hollow, which was redesigned by Fazio and could have the closest comparable links. Rory is one of the strongest off the tee and although he is said to be trialling a new driver this weekend, I hope it’s going to help rather than hinder his already superb driving.

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