Week three of the new season takes the Tour to Korea for a brand-new event on a brand-new track.
Hashtag and Handle not included:
THE CJ CUP AT NINE BRIDGES
Jeju Island, Korea
Yards: 7,196 per the official scorecard;
Par: 72 (36-36);
Course Architect(s): Ron Fream (Golfplan), 2000.
Water Hazards: creek runs through the front nine.
Purse: $9.25 million; $1.665 million (winner); 500 FEC points.
Defending Champion: Inaugural event
Notes: 78 players; 72 holes (no cut).
2017-18 PGA Tour Winners
Safeway: Brendan Steele
CIMB: Pat Perez
Returns next week
* – playoff
italics – not playing this week
Weather: The exact opposite of last week in Malaysia: cool and breezy.
This will win you a bar bet I:
The winner of this event will be paid MOAR than the winner of the Tour Championship last month.
Remember, this is a fantasy golf column, not a travel guide, so apologies in advance.
Nine Bridges was open for business in 2001 so while it’s new to the pros this week it didn’t just unlock the doors. The course sits at altitude of 3,500 feet and has two distinct nines. The front nine plays with a creek running through it (think Glen Abbey?) and the back nine goes through the hills (think Country Club of Austin) giving the players two different challenges.
The course, according to the pictures at PGATOUR.com, barely has any trees inside the cart paths so it looks relatively open. There are plenty of trees on the wrong side of the cart path so poor shots, as usual, will be penalized.
The altitude should shorten an already short course that incorporates four par fives (think Montreux) and that would suggest scoring should be active, to say the least.
The entire layout from tee-to-green is Bentgrass so remember that when splitting hairs. Since this is a brand-new event and course, there won’t be anyone who has an advantage on the greens this week. Yardage books and green maps are filling up today but that’s not going create any separation.
Since nobody will have any advantage on the greens or tee-to-green, I suggest relying on ball-strikers and guys who are in form. Of the new courses played last year, WGC-Mexico was shredded while a wet, tough TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm played more like a U.S. Open. I will bet this is more of the former than the latter.
With four par fives and a drivable par four everyone is going to find plenty of birdie chances.
I would suggest the folks that just arrived might be a bit behind whereas the folks that played in Malaysia last week are already adjusted.
Here’s what happens: The better players rise in situations like this. Of course there will be one or two “outsiders” in the mix but with a level playing field it’s not a difficult decision to make. The folks who find the most greens will make the least amount of bogeys and if going low is the answer, bogeys aren’t going to help anything this week either.
Paul Casey: Toss the first round out last week and who knows if we’re still talking about how he hasn’t won since 2009. Toss in the first round and we remember why he drives gamers crazy. He was 19-under in his last 54 holes last week so the adjustment was made. He was third in GIR and fifth in scoring last year.
Justin Thomas: He makes 100 birdies falling out of bed and has the power to turn this place up-side-down. Similar to Casey, he knocked the bugs out as the week went on and his scores went down. People shouldn’t be worried about motivation this week for him or anyone else in this field as $1.665 million is a big chunk of change.
Keegan Bradley:. Nappy factor? Check. Married and happy? Check. Toasting TPC-KL last week to the tune of 20-under? Check. Light that candle and let it burn.
Tony Finau: The forgotten man in Brendan Steele’s defense at Silverado, Finau was leading on the back nine before a double-bogey saw him fall back. He still picked up a check for solo second. The big hitter was in the top 11 in birdies plus par four and par five scoring last season.
Marc Leishman: The downside is he didn’t capitalize on his chance to win $10 million at the Tour Championship but please don’t forget he was third in Boston and won by a mile in Chicago. His class alone would put him in the top 10 this week as he finished last year eighth in SG: Total.
Pat Perez: Impossible to root against after his brilliant post-round comments, Perez will continue being Perez and that should encourage gamers to jump right back on. So will the results in his last If going low is a must, he made 27 birdies in his first 62 holes before parring the final 10. #Sizzle.
Xander Schauffele: Sometimes as gamers we want to talk ourselves out of something instead of INTO something. Not every player is wired the same way so we have to learn as we go. I pointed this out last week before Schauffele picked up another podium that he just plays. Some guys are happy and settle. Some guys continue to light it. He’s easily column B.
Rafael Cabera-Bello: Three top 10’s in his last eight worldwide including T-10 last week. Notoriously pounds GIR and will have plenty of chances to score. If you’re worried about windy conditions you shouldn’t be with any Spanish players.
Anirban Lahiri: The results have proven that the Presidents Cup Captain’s Pick was exactly the shot in the arm his confidence needed. He responded with a top 10 at the BMW Championship, a very steady Presidents Cup effort and another top 10 last week in Malaysia. As I say, hot golf is hot golf.
Russell Henley: He’s cashed 10 events in a row and the best of the bunch was the last time out, T-3 at the Tour Championship. He hits plenty of fairways and greens and can score in bunches. He closed 67-65 at East Lake.
Jason Day: With three top 10’s in his last seven worldwide and nothing worse than T-27 he’s worth the look. If this track is as wide open as it looks, I’d be shocked if he didn’t find the top 10. Remember, he didn’t switch caddies because he was winning too much. Also remember he was fifth in eagles and sixth in birdies last year.
Kyle Stanley: He finished in the top four in both fairways and greens last week so he will definitely not mind the playing field being level on the greens this week. He should be in every lineup this week.
Sung Kang: Do it again. He followed up his last podium in April at the SHO with T-11 and T-6 so I’m climbing aboard.
Luke List: Battlefield promotion after his T-13 at my dark horse last week. It doesn’t hurt that he crushes it off the tee and makes birdies and eagles for breakfast. He’ll fly completely under the radar again this week.
Nick Taylor: He backed up his T-9 at Safeway with T-13 last week. He’s excellent on Bentgrass as well. I’m not over-thinking this.
Lucas Glover: You can’t spell GIR without Glover. Pretend the L is a capital I.
Stewart Cink: 18th in GIR and 20th and birdies last year so I’ll take my chances on a veteran who cashed T-13 last week.
Ian Poulter: He closed with 31 last week. I’ll take that momentum instead of waiting for some to fall out of the sky.
Branden Grace: Complete class pick and a complete ball-striker.
Jenghun Wang: Plays on a proper tour, the European Tour and is trending in a proper direction with T-44, T-35 and T-21 in his last three. If you’re looking to back a Korean because of the Hollywood story, start and end here.
Gary Woodland: Nothing outside of T-28 in his last four suggests something is brewing here.
Cameron Smith: His wonderful unpredictableness ropes me again this week. He’ll be full of confidence after T-5 last week.
Next week in Shanghai we’ll have a point of reference.
Long Shots and General MishMash
Threw is some beauties in this part of the column last week so there’s no doubt I’ll fall flatly on my face this time around…Patrick Rodgers goes right back in again because I’m a homer and he played decently last week (T-23)…Ollie Schniederjans has showed plenty of flashes and he chops wood with the best of them tee-to-green…OK, I hid this one wayyyyyyyyyyy down here to keep the riff raff away. Chris Kirk came clean on his equipment disaster and started his new season with T-30 at Safeway…Another who can bomb it and won’t mind being able to find where his drives land, Morgan Hoffmann has gone low before on “new grounds” (see: 62 at Cherry Hills)…Don’t worry Bud Cauley, I’m not leaving just yet…S.Y. Noh will probably win this week because nothing else would make less sense…In the Choi war, I’ll take Jinho…Don’t forget C.T. Pan loves him a bit of Bentgrass as well.
If they’re not listed above, I’m not looking in their direction this week.
Adam Scott: His class argues against this but he also didn’t fire in the Playoffs. All fades are relative and if you find Scott in a place, space or price that you feel that is undervalued, go on and have at it. I’m not paying full freight this week.
Patrick Reed: Ctrl-C, Ctrl-P from above.
Daniel Berger: Cool finish to the Playoffs + rust-buster = Glass on the sidelines. I don’t like fading him but he’s led me here, not vice-versa.
2016-17 PGA Tour Winners
CIMB: Justin Thomas
WGC-HSBC: Hideki Matsuyama
Sanderson Farms: Cody Gribble**
Shriners: Rod Pampling
OHL Mayakoba: Pat Perez
RSM Classic: Mackenzie Hughes**
SBS TOC: Justin Thomas
Sony Open: Justin Thomas
CB Challenge: Hudson Swafford*
Farmers: Jon Rahm*
WMPO: Hideki Matsuyama
AT&T Pebble Beach: Jordan Spieth
Genesis Open: Dustin Johnson
Honda: Rickie Fowler
WGC-MC: Dustin Johnson
Valspar: Adam Hadwin*
Arnold Palmer: Marc Leishman
WGC-Match Play: Dustin Johnson
Shell Houston Open: Russell Henley
Masters: Sergio Garcia
RBC Heritage: Wesley Bryan**
Valero Texas Open: Kevin Chappell*
Zurich Classic: Cameron Smith* & Jonas Blixt
Wells Fargo Championship: Brian Harman
THE PLAYERS: Si Woo Kim
AT&T Byron Nelson: Billy Horschel
Colonial: Kevin Kisner
Memorial: Jason Dufner
FESJC: Daniel Berger
U.S. Open: Brooks Koepka
Travelers: Jordan Spieth
QLN: Kyle Stanley
Greenbrier: Xander Schauffele**
John Deere Classic: Bryson DeChambeau**
The Open Championship: Jordan Spieth
Barbasol: Grayson Murray
RBC Canadian: Jhonattan Vegas
WGC-BI: Hideki Matsuyama
Barracuda: Chris Stroud*
PGA Championship: Justin Thomas
Wyndham Championship: Henrik Stenson
FEC Playoff I: Dustin Johnson
FEC Playoff II: Justin Thomas
FEC Playoff III: Marc Leishman
FEC Playoff IV: Xander Schuaffele
**-First-time winner AND rookie winner
Wednesday I’ll present my gaming angles for the week so keep your eyes peeled at @MikeGlasscott and mikeglasscott.com for more information.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out through Twitter or email me firstname.lastname@example.org.