2020 CJ Cup Betting Preview: Which Stats Matter Most This Week at Shadow Creek?

Credit:

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images. Pictured: Dustin Johnson.

The PGA TOUR stays in Las Vegas this week to play The CJ Cup. This is the fourth time we have seen this event on TOUR, with the previous three being played at the Nine Bridges Golf Club on Jeju Island, South Korea.

The 2020 edition will be played at Shadow Creek due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Shadow Creek is a highly exclusive golf course that has been frequented by many celebrities including former presidents and professional athletes from other sports.

The course isn’t your typical desert golf course; it features mounds, lakes, creeks and beautiful waterfalls. Viewers will be in for a treat for one of the most beautiful golf courses on earth. Julius Erving recently said: “Shadow Creek is the place I would like to be buried when my days are done. It’s my favorite place on the planet.”

The CJ Cup will be a no-cut event with an absolutely stacked 78-man field that includes some big-time players who we haven’t seen since the U.S. Open: Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka (returning from injury), Jon Rahm, Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose.

Shadow Creek is a 7,527-yard, par-72 course featuring bentgrass greens. Unfortunately, we have very little else to factor into our strategy this week as we have only seen this course at “The Match” between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson back in 2018. Shadow Creek has never hosted a tournament on the PGA Tour.

Past Winners at The CJ Cup (Nine Bridges Golf Club)

  • 2019: Justin Thomas (-20)
  • 2018: Brooks Koepka (-21) 
  • 2017: Justin Thomas (-9)

Let’s take a look at several key metrics for Shadow Creek to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their last 24 rounds.


 


Strokes Gained: Off the Tee

With limited information about Shadow Creek, this seems like a good place to start. In no-cut events, the cream usually rises to the top. The best players in the world usually rank towards the top in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee, and it will absolutely play a major factor this week.

Total strokes gained in category in past 24 rounds:

  1. Sergio Garcia (+20.2) (+5500)
  2. Jon Rahm (+19.4) (+1000)
  3. Bubba Watson (+19.4) (+7000)
  4. Cameron Champ (+18.1) (+17500)
  5. Corey Conners (+17.5) (+12500)

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Strokes Gained: Approach

Approach will most likely be the most important statistic (as it often is) this week. With no course history, seeing who ranks well in approach numbers is the best indicator of who has been playing well.

  1. Dustin Johnson (+30.9) (+850)
  2. Russell Henley (+29.7) (+9000)
  3. Brendan Steele (+22.4) (+12500)
  4. Justin Thomas (+21.5) (+1200)
  5. Matthew Wolff (+18.5) (+2200)

Birdies or Better Gained

In no-cut events, birdies are even more important. Everyone getting four guaranteed rounds opens the door for players to get in contention at any point with a low round. Birdie makers generally sit atop the leaderboard in these types of events.

Total strokes gained in category in past 24 rounds:

  1. Dustin Johnson (+33.1) (+800)
  2. Justin Thomas (+21.1) (+1200)
  3. Scottie Scheffler (+19.1) (+4100)
  4. Kevin Kisner (+17.1) (+9000)
  5. Daniel Berger (+16.1) (+3300)

SG: Total on courses more than 7,400 yards

Being a longer course this week, I feel it will be important to factor in that bombers tend to play well in no-cut and strong-field events. While the altitude will shorten the course a bit, I still see driving it far as a big advantage. I think using this statistic will remove some golfers who will have a tough time competing in this field from my model.

Total strokes gained in category in past 24 rounds (per round, minimum of 20 rounds):

  1. Dustin Johnson (+2.9) (+800)
  2. Rory McIlroy (+2.5) (+1400)
  3. Jon Rahm (+1.9) (+1000)
  4. Xander Schauffele(+1.8) (+1400)
  5. Paul Casey (+1.7) (+5000)

Strokes Gained: Par 5

With four par 5s on the course, par-5 scoring will be crucial this week. In a tournament where I expect scoring to be fairly low, the golfers who take advantage of the scoring opportunities on the par 5s will have a chance to separate themselves from the field.

The longest hitters will have a chance to reach all four par 5s in two, while shorter hitters may be able to reach two of them. Last week, Martin Laird led the field in par-5 scoring and won the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, highlighting its importance.

Total strokes gained in category in past 24 rounds:

  1. Dustin Johnson (+14.9) (+800)
  2. Xander Schauffele (+13.9) (+1400)
  3. Daniel Berger (+10.9) (+3300)
  4. Tony Finau (+10.7) (+3000)
  5. Patrick Cantlay (+9.5) (+1800)

Statistical Model

Below, I’ve reported overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed.

These rankings are comprised of SG: OTT (24%) SG: App: (24%), B.O.B. Gained (22%), SG: Par 5 (15%), SG: Total (over 7,400) 15%.

  1. Dustin Johnson (+800)
  2. Justin Thomas (+1200)
  3. Daniel Berger (+3300)
  4. Brooks Koepka (+2500)
  5. Bubba Watson (+7000)
  6. Matthew Wolff (+2200)
  7. Scottie Scheffler (+4100)
  8. Jon Rahm (+1000)
  9. Jason Kokrak (+6600)
  10. Justin Rose(+7000)

[Bet the CJ Cup now at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

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