The limited 78 player CJ Cup event at The Summit in Las Vegas sports the strongest field of the young season, with 30 of the top 50 golfers in the world in attendance in the second consecutive tournament taking place in the gaming capital of the world.
Last year, the event was played at Shadow Creek after being moved from South Korea due to the Covid-19 pandemic and is expected to move back to Asia in 2022.
Jason Kokrak won the 2020 CJ Cup for his first PGA Tour victory after over nine years as a professional, defeating Xander Schauffele by two shots with a closing 64, the lowest round of the tournament. This time the event moves to The Summit, a par 72 layout designed by Tom Fazio that plays to 7,431 yards and presents great views of the Las Vegas Strip.
The qualifying criteria for the CJ Cup includes the top 60 in the final 2021 FedEx Cup standings, 10 top players from the Asian and South Korean Tours, as well as eight sponsor exemptions. The tournament has a WGC or major tournament vibe, and with the top players entered, it may end up having an exciting final round with undoubtedly a number of former major champions in the mix.
Sixteen of the 24 Ryder Cup participants are also in the field, after just two of six made the cut at last week’s Shriners Children’s Open that was won by Tour Ironman Sungjae Im by four shots over Matthew Wolff after Im fired a nine-under-par 62 to tie the tournament record of 24 under par 260.
Despite a disappointing end to the 2021 season after a blistering start, including a win in the Masters in November for his second major championship, Dustin Johnson is the betting favorite at +1000. He is just slightly ahead of Schauffele and former PGA champion Justin Thomas at +1200, with four-time major winner Rory McIlroy at +1600 and Ryder Cup multiple major champions Jordan Spieth and Collin Morikawa having odds of +2000.
Recent Sanderson Farms Championship winner Sam Burns is at +2200 along with former Open Championship winner Louis Oosthuizen who is still looking for his first victory in the United States. Five Ryder Cup players are among the next six in the odds, including Tony Finau at +2500 and Brooks Koepka, Scottie Scheffler, Viktor Hovland, and Shane Lowry at +2800.
With the top of the field dominated by the best players in the game, those that are farther down the odds list will have a tough time coming away with a victory in the CJ Cup. The tournament is being played at a venue that hasn’t hosted a PGA Tour event, so none of the entrants have any experience, which might provide hope to players like Marc Leishman, who has odds of +5000 and has a strong track record against tough fields.
Patrick Reed, who missed the cut after a miserable outing last week, offers very attractive odds of +6500 and is worth a flyer at getting a great payout. Reed still has plenty of incentive to show the PGA of America that he belongs on the 2023 Ryder Cup team, so even though he may not be in top form, it makes sense to wager on the former Masters champion at those odds.
At +15000, Rickie Fowler, who is playing on a sponsor’s exemption, is worthy of consideration to finally break out of his two-year slump and return to the winners’ circle on the PGA Tour. His putting has been abysmal, and there are reports that the five-time Tour winner has made a breakthrough, despite missing the cut by a shot after a second-round 66.