CJ Cup Betting Guide: Is There Value in Favorites at This Tough Course?

CJ Cup Betting Guide: Is There Value in Favorites at This Tough Course? article feature image
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Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

  • Justin Thomas (+500) is the favorite to win the CJ Cup, which tees off Thursday at Nine Bridges Golf Club in South Korea.
  • See who I'm targeting for this weekend's small-field tournament, including a couple mid-tier guys, and which lines I'm watching.

The PGA Tour heads to South Korea this week to make a relatively unfamiliar stop at the Nine Bridges Golf Club, which will host the CJ Cup for the second time.

Justin Thomas knocked off Marc Leishman in a playoff last year in the inaugural event. Thomas went off as the +650 favorite while Leishman was in the +2000 range, so talent reigned supreme in the first go at this course.

YTD: -7.86 units

The Course

Nine Bridges was one of the more difficult courses on tour last season.

It wasn’t the longest — measuring at only 7,196 yards for a par-72 — but deep rough and windy conditions put a real emphasis on precision.

Even though Thomas is a bomber and won here, the course didn’t really favor the longer hitters much. Whee Kim, Brian Harman and Scott Brown all worked their way into contention last season despite not having overwhelming power.

The Favorites

Thomas is back to defend his title and opened as a +500 or +550 favorite depending on the book. He’s joined by Brooks Koepka in that range at +800.

Jason Day, Leishman and Hideki Matsuyama round out the sub +2000 group.

Coming off a win at the CIMB Classic coupled with a runner-up finish last season in this tournament, Leishman will get a lot of looks. But +1400 is too short of a number for me.

Day at +1200 would be the only one of the top five I would consider. He was playing fairly consistently to close out the 2018 season and should be a good fit here.

I’ll be staying away from the +2000 range altogether. We have a limited field of only 78 players, so we’re seeing a lot of lesser talent here as a result.

Instead, I’ll be starting with three guys in the +3000s.

Mid Tier

We’ll get the card going with one of my go-to plays: Tyrrell Hatton at +3000.

I like Hatton on any course that’s on the shorter side and doesn’t have Bermuda greens. He’s pretty good at keeping the driver in play and has a great short game and putter. If he’s able to find the greens with his irons, he’ll have a chance to compete here.

I’ll be sticking to the European Ryder Cup squad with my next pick and go with Hatton’s teammate Alex Noren at +3500.

Alex-Noren
Credit: Steven Flynn-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Alex Noren

Noren has shown the ability to play tough courses well this season, winning at Le Golf National and losing in a playoff at Torrey Pines. He’s pretty solid throughout the bag, and when he’s on his game, he doesn’t have a real weakness. I’d like his number over many of the guys in the +2000 range.

Next up is Gary Woodland at +3500.

Woodland was going to be one of my top plays on this course regardless of his performance at the CIMB, so the fact that he finished tied for fifth there last week only boosts my confidence in him.

He’s a bomber, but his better results tend to come on shorter courses that force him to club down a bit. He can get a little wild with the driver, which gets him into trouble at times.

An emphasis on accuracy this week will help if he’s willing to limit his driver usage.

The last play in this range will be Kyle Stanley.

Stanley is checking in at +5000 on just about every book, so I’m going to wait it out and see if his number moves in a favorable direction for me. Stanley is excellent from tee to green and should thrive on a tough course.

If the number starts to move into the +4000s anywhere for Stanley, I’ll take the +5000. But there’s a chance we’ll find better odds later in the week.

Longshots

Because of a difficult tee-to-green test in a short field, I’m not too keen on anyone in the triple-digit range to win outright.

I do like Stewart Cink as a top-10 play at +900 on Sportsbook. His days winning tournaments might be over, but he’s played well over the past few months. He finished tied for 13th at the CIMB and should be a better fit at Nine Bridges, where length might not be as much of an advantage.

If we can get +750 or +800 there, I’ll place it on that book to avoid the dead heat.


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CJ Cup Card

  • Tyrell Hatton +3000 (1.1 units)
  • Alex Noren +3500 (.94 units)
  • Gary Woodland +3500 (.94 units)
  • Kyle Stanley +5000 (.66 units)
  • Stewart Cink top 10 (1 unit)

Total Stake: 4.64 units
Season: -7.86 units