The third edition of the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges, played on Jeju Island in South Korea, will begin a three-tournament Asian swing on the PGA Tour.
Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka, the first two winners of the tournament, just happened to be the reigning PGA Tour Players of the Year. That streak is guaranteed to end, however, since current Player of the Year Rory McIlroy has opted to skip the event. The previous two, though, are in South Korea and headline the field.
Conditions will be key
The tournament is played as a par 72 and at listed yardage of 7,196. How windy it is will likely have an impact on scores. Koepka’s 267 total from last year was 12 shots superior to Thomas’ score from the year before.
With wide fairways, a lot of recent rainfall and larger-than-average greens, the course should be receptive of good scoring. Only 78 players will tee off, so there won’t be a cut.
One player who has yet to win on the PGA Tour but is knocking on the door again is Rafa Cabrera-Bello. The Canary Islands native (and new dad) is +2200 to take top honors and has encouraging recent form. That includes a second-place finish in the recent Open de España in Madrid, a tie for sixth in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth near London and a tie for 12th in the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis.
Rafa Cabrera Bello proving a new baby is no excuse for slacking on your game. 😂
— Golf Digest (@GolfDigest) September 6, 2019
Cabrera-Bello finished in a respectable tie for 11th two years ago in this event and tied for third last year after he closed with a pair of 65s. It would appear he may be a horse for course, so to speak, and for a price. He’s also +230 for a top 10 finish.
A local contender
For the 16 Korean players entered, the CJ Cup likely feels like a fifth major championship, because it is the only PGA Tour stop in their country. One of them who undoubtedly will visit the winner’s circle at some point is Sungjae Im, who captured PGA Tour Rookie of the Year honors. He is not only is from South Korea but grew up on Jeju Island. He also happened to play this course a bunch in his youth, so if there’s anything valid about local knowledge, he would have it.
— PGA TOUR Communications (@PGATOURComms) October 16, 2019
Im, 21, finished second in the recent Sanderson Farms Championship, and last season recorded seven top 10 finishes from a staggering 35 events played. At +2200 Im offers good value at a tournament he surely covets.
The first tee shot will be hit at 7 p.m. ET Thursday, and coverage begins on Golf Channel at 10 p.m.