2021 CJ CUP FRL Picks: Oosthuizen, Smith and Vegas Among Top Choices
Stacy Revere/Getty Images. Pictured: Cameron Smith
For the second week in a row, the PGA TOUR is rolling hot Las Vegas. Players will tee it up at The Summit Club, as it makes it tournament debut. Normally the event is held in Jeju Island, South Korea. However, with COVID-19 restrictions, organizers moved the event to Sin City in 2020 and 2021. Next year it is set to return to Asia.
First Round Leader is a little trickier this week. We don’t have any data from this course, nor have we, as fans, seen it in play. There are a few different ways to approach it this week. Collin Morikawa, for example, calls The Summit Club home. Maverick McNealy, also, is a member here. That’s just one of many ways to approach this week.
When picking these FRLs this week, I’m looking at who can makes putts and take advantage of a low-scoring course. I think it’ll play similarly to Caves Valley (and TPC Summerlin last week, even), and the winner will need to go crazy low.
Louis Oosthuizen | +2500
Going back to basics, Louis Oosthuizen is usually (always?) a solid FRL bet. Last week at Shriners, he made his first start since the TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP (I’m not yelling, they are yelling), where he finished T-14.
Obviously, whatever he did during his break worked. But, while most golfers take time off to do relaxing things, I assume Lodewicus spent his down time plowing the fields or going to John Deere expos. So, who knows?
He’s second only to Cameron Tringale in SG:TOT over the last 12 Thursday rounds. I left Cam off of this list this week for reason unknown even to me, but Louis and Southern Hemisphere Cameron (spoiler alert) seem to have most of my attention this week.
Cameron Smith | +3000
The man, the myth, the mullet. Cam Smith started off well with a string low of first round scores last season. He didn’t cash any FRL’s late last season, but that’s not to say he played poorly. He did the exact opposite, in fact.
Smith finished the season first in Round One scoring, with a 68.9 average. His average was 68.91, to be exact, and Jon Rahm was .04 strokes behind him in second.
It’s a new season, but Cam still has the same mullet and mustache. Legally, that means he will play as well, if not better, this season.
Aaron Wise | +4500
A player that deserves a lot more respect than he gets, Aaron Wise has an incredibly high ceiling. On the flip side of that, he also has a low floor. But right now, he’s adding floors on floors his house because he’s busting the roof open.
In his last five events, Wise gained an average of five shots per round on his competitors. Before that, in his last 20 events, he wasn’t even gaining two. Case in point: his last missed cut was at the Heritage in April. He has three top-10’s since then, including a T-8 at Shriners last week.
It’s been nearly three years since his first and only win. He knows how to get it done, and with his recent surge in form, I think he’s going to continue to play great golf.
Jhonattan Vegas | +5500
I promise I didn’t pick Jhonny Vegas for the sole purpose of making “Vegas in Vegas” jokes — I’m contractually obligated to leave those jokes to Jason Sobel. The long hitting Venezuelan is making his first start on the season after a T-38 at the BMW to miss a spot at East Lake.
He had some nice early rounds towards the end of last season, and I think he’s going to carry that momentum over to this year. Vegas has the confidence of three runner-up finishes during the 2021 season to take with him to The Summit Club.
Branden Grace | +6000
I have South Africans at the bookends of the article today. Like his former Presidents Cup teammate Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace’s game sets up nicely for this course.
Grace is almost always undervalued across the board, and this week is no exception. Grace has three top-10 finishes (two of them top-5) in his last six starts on the PGA TOUR. He also has two starts in Europe (T-12, T-27) since missing out on East Lake.