Oct. 14, 2021
The CJ Cup Picks and Predictions
It's the second straight week in Vegas for the PGA Tour, but it's the first time they've seen tournament play at the Summit Club. Collin Morikawa (+1600) is a member at this resort club though and practices here quite a bit on his off weeks, so for bettors that may already be on the fence with a Morikawa selection this week, he may be one guy to have a bit of a leg up on these guys this week.
For the course itself, it looks like it's another one that's going to get massacred with low scores by these PGA pros, as the driving areas are very forgiving and with four Par 5's and playing at a bit of altitude, eagles and birdies are going to be coming fast and furious. So while the caliber of field has increased relative to the first three tournaments on the schedule this year, it's going to be the 4th straight event where really low scores are likely to be had by all. Especially with these top players getting a guaranteed four rounds here.
That means that the usual default method of looking at approach stats is where bettors want to start, and with word coming out of practice rounds etc that it's also a course where being on the right portion of the greens with this approach shots are a must. So proximity to the hole is another stat line to consider with guys you may be looking to add to your card.
The CJ Cup Betting Resources
The CJ Cup Betting Odds
Dustin Johnson (+1000) comes into the event as the favorite, with Xander Schauffele (+1200), Justin Thomas (+1200), Rory McIlroy (+1600), Morikawa (+1600), and Jordan Spieth (+2000) all being names at 20-1 or lower. After that there are another nine names – Sam Burns (+2200), Louis Oosthuizen (+2200), Viktor Hovland (+2500), Tony Finau (+2500), Brooks Koepka (+2800), Scottie Scheffler (+2800), Shane Lowry (+2800), Cam Smith (+2800), and last week's winner Sungjae Im (+3000) – at 30-1 or lower, emphasizing just how much deeper this field is then the last few weeks. That's 15 different guys at +3000 or better and we've been lucky to even have half that many names in that price range in recent weeks.
That's the attractiveness of these no-cut events though with the guaranteed paycheck and FedEx Cup points, as usually it's one of these top names that ends up coming on top in this kind of format. It was the WGC events that typically were reserved for this format, and given that recent WGC winners the past few years read off like this – Morikawa, Horschel, Ancer, Reed, Thomas, DJ, Kisner, Koepka, McIlroy, Mickelson, Watson, Thomas, and Schauffele – having at least a couple of guys from these 15 names priced at 30-1 or lower is never a bad idea.
The CJ Cup Contenders
Collin Morikawa enters The CJ Cup with odds to win at +1600 along with Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth . (AP)
The CJ Cup Contender to Back
Tony Finau +2500
Finau's only action since the Tour Championship at the beginning of September was in the Ryder Cup, as he returns to stroke play format to get this season kicked off. He's a guy that I always had pegged as someone to get that “breakthrough” victory in a WGC-style format, but his win at the first playoff event last year – The Northern Trust – might have ended that “breakthrough” narrative.
Still, I do believe this type of format is one where Finau should excel as he's a guy that tends to be overly consistent in what he does. His true strokes gained numbers in the approach game during those three playoff events (his last three starts) were +1.53, +0.54, and +0.99 and he never finished worse than T15th in any of those starts. Considering that those fields are quite comparable to the one this week, the +2500 price is worth a shot.
Finau's still one of the longer hitters in the game and with minimal fear of getting into too much trouble off the tee this week, and with an average proximity to the hole of 35'5” in 97 rounds last season (ranked T35 and tied with Viktor Hovland), I do expect him to be just fine in terms of making sure his “misses” are in the right spot on these greens.
The only names in this similar price range this week that were better than Finau's T35 ranking in that category last season were Morikawa (T7), and Justin Thomas (T30), and Finau's (and Hovland's for that matter) price is about 10 points better than Morikawa's +1600. Comparing things like that was enough for me to add Finau to the card this week.
The CJ Cup Mid-Range Value
Brooks Koepka +2800
Koepka got his first event of the 21-22 season out of the way last week at the Shriners, as a lackluster weekend made him a non-factor in terms of the outright win despite being the pre-tournament favorite. Him just making the cut was good enough to easily cash last week's 72 hole matchup bet though, and as is typically the case with him, I'm just not sure last week's event was “big enough” for him to really be concerned with the result. Koepka has made no secret that he aims to be at his best when the paydays are the biggest, and the CJ Cup is going to have the biggest 1st place check of any of the remaining events in the 2021 calendar year.
There was enough good from Koepka in those first two rounds (68-67) where I do believe he builds upon that effort in a much better way this week than what we saw from him last weekend. After being the tournament favorite at +1600 entering last week, and being priced ahead of guys like Burns, Oosthuizen, and Hovland then, I don't fully understand why Koepka is priced behind those names this week. Easy for me to pull the trigger on Koepka's outright chances because of it.
The CJ Cup Long Shot Pick
Adam Scott +5000
If the reports are going to come to fruition regarding how generous the landing spots are going to be off-the-tee for these guys this week, that style of play eliminates one of Scott's biggest weaknesses in his game right now (driving accuracy), and should allow one of the purest ball strikers this game has seen to be a factor in the outright decision.
Scott was almost the mirror image of Koepka last week at the Shriners as he used a solid weekend (67-69) to finish T35th in his first start of the season. He's a UNLV alum from his college days, so playing golf in Vegas and all that that brings should be a comfortable position for him, and the improvements he's made with the putter in recent years have really helped him transform his game again as he's gotten older.
Last year, Scott finished 18th in SG: Putting on Tour, and his +1.15 SG: Approach numbers for last week picked up right where he left off in that category last season (45th in SG: Approach). As long as he's not left up to his own devices scrambling around the greens I believe Scott will be involved at the top of the leaderboard this weekend, and if scores are expected to be low anyways, too much scrambling will kill anyone's chances to begin with.
For how good of an iron player he's been throughout his entire career, it's his improvement on the greens that has made him a guy I'm more interested in backing these days in general. In what should be a comfortable spot for him playing in Vegas, on a course where basically everyone is playing it for the first time, a 50-1 price on Scott is something that I couldn't leave off the card.
Popular Golf Betting Resources
The CJ Cup 72 Hole Matchup
Morikawa -115 over McIlroy
Finding out that Morikawa is a member at the Summit Club earlier in the week instantly made him a guy I was interested in backing in some form. Guys that are members at a venue always bring a bit of concern with them in that they get too relaxed and simply don't execute as they can as they can be too reliant on that course knowledge, but in a head-to-head with McIlroy specifically it's a risk I'm willing to take.
McIlroy is making his first start since taking that Ryder Cup loss pretty hard as he didn't gain even a half-point in any of his three team matches. By the time the singles rolled around on Sunday the Ryder Cup was virtually decided and McIlroy had to feel like he let the European team down quite a bit with his team play. Don't blame him at all for that, but it does speak to some potential leaks in his own golf game right now, and if that's the case, putting that on top of this being his first start of the year, and him going up against a course member in a near pick'em price is a little absurd.
Not as absurd as having the pre-tournament favorite as an underdog in a head-to-head matchup against anyone like Koepka was last week, but -115 is a very cheap price to pay for Morikawa in this matchup, all things considered.
How to Bet on Golf
Golf betting has gained much more exposure and interest in the past few years, and with plenty of plus-money prices littered throughout the various forms of golf wagers, the chance for bigger scores is part of the reason behind that increased popularity.
Sportsbooks ensure that there are no shortage of wagering options on golf tournaments every week, and it isn't all about picking the winner. Grabbing the outright winner of a golf tournament is the best way to get that 'big score' but it's also the hardest wager to cash. After all, a typical professional golf tournament has a field of 140+ different players to consider.
Understanding Golf Odds and Bets
Most golf odds are listed in the fractional format – 10/1 on Dustin Johnson for example – and in that particular case you would multiply the amount bet by that first number to project your winnings. So a $100 bet on DJ to win that particular event would win you $1000.
If you are more comfortable with the American version of odds listings that you typically see across the other major North American sports – ie +1000 – these numbers are easily convertible. Online and app based books may already have that option built in, but the easiest way to do it yourself is to add two zeros to the first number in the fraction. So a 10/1 price on DJ converts to +1000 in that format.
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