The Confidence Factor: CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES

Yep, ALL CAPS.

Picks and info after the jump and you better jump quickly!

This is LITERALLY true:

CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES

Jeju Island, Korea

 

Club at NINE BRIDGES Cheat Sheet

Yards (per official scorecard): 7,184
Par: 72 (36-36)
Greens: Bentgrass
Stimpmeter: 10.5′ and faster (weather/wind permitting).
Bunkers/Water Hazards 110
Architects: David Dale (2001).
Purse: $9.5 million; $1.71 winner plus 500 FedExCup points.
Defending Champion (event): Justin Thomas
Fact of the Week: This is only the second event here.
Fact of the Week II: Field of only 78 players.

 

2017-18 Winners

Looking back to look forward as you’ll notice no Spieth, Fowler, Scott, McIlroy, Matsuyama, Fleetwood, Finau, Stenson or Garcia.

*First-time winner

**First-time winner AND rookie winner

Event Winner
   
Safeway Open Brendan Steele
CIMB Classic Pat Perez
WGC-HSBC Champions Justin Rose
Sanderson Farms Ryan Armour*
Shriners Hospitals for Children Patrick Cantlay*
OHL Mayakoba Patton Kizzire*
The RSM Classic Austin Cook**
Sentry TOC Dustin Johnson
Sony Open Patton Kizzire (2)
CB Challenge Jon Rahm
Farmers Insurance Open Jason Day
WMPO Gary Woodland
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Ted Potter, Jr.
Genesis Open Bubba Watson
Honda Classic Justin Thomas
WGC-Mexico Championship Phil Mickelson
Valspar Championship Paul Casey
Arnold Palmer Invitational Rory McIlroy
WGC-Match Play Bubba Watson (2)
Corales Puntacana Resorts Brice Garnett*
Houston Open Ian Poulter
Masters Patrick Reed
RBC Heritage Satoshi Kodaira*
Valero Texas Open Andrew Landry*
Zurich Classic of New Orleans Billy Horschel & Scott Piercy
Wells Fargo Championship Jason Day (2)
THE PLAYERS Championship Webb Simpson
AT&T Byron Nelson Aaron Wise**
Fort Worth Invitational Justin Rose (2)
Memorial Bryson DeChambeau
FESJC Dustin Johnson (2)
U.S. Open Brooks Koepka
Travelers Championship Bubba Watson (3)
Quicken Loans National Francesco Molinari
A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier Kevin Na
John Deere Classic Michael Kim*
The Open Championship Francesco Molinari (2)
RBC Canadian Open Dustin Johnson (3)
Barracuda Championship Andrew Putnam*
WGC-Bridgestone Invitational Justin Thomas (3)
PGA Championship Brooks Koepka (2)
Wyndham Championship Brandt Snedeker
THE NORTHERN TRUST FEC I Bryson DeChambeau (2)
Dell Technologies FEC II Bryson DeChambeau (3)
BMW Championship FEC III Keegan Bradley
TOUR Championship Tiger Woods

 

The Confidence Factor is the weekly column I write for PGATOUR.COM. I’ve included the link here for you. Please read as I’m not going to write it all out here.

 

Facts and Figures:

Tournament Record: 279 (-9); Thomas, Leishman
Course Record: 63; Thomas (Rd. 1)
Recent Defending Champion(s): n/a
Multiple Winners (event or course): n/a
First TOUR Win (last): n/a
First-time Event: n/a
Low Round 2017: 63; Thomas
Odd Fact: The purse of $9.5 million is more than any other WGC or FedExCup Playoff event from last season!

 

Quick Thoughts

This track has been compared to Kapalua because of how the design is affected by the wind. If it doesn’t blow, they will go low. If it does, well, par turns into a decent score as we saw last year. The generous fairways are penal if you miss and the bunkering around the greens is no picnic either. Those returning will have their notes on the greens from last year but the best-of-the-best rarely need much time for learning a new track.

With a massive prize pool and huge first-place check in play, there’s no chance I’m wandering away from the heavy chalk this week. Bentgrass greens will level the playing field with the putters but I think four Par-5 holes and not even 7,200 yards will favor the ball-strikers.

Event Winners:

Year Player Notes
2017 Justin Thomas, 279 (-9) Defeated Leishman in a two-hole playoff.
     
     
     
     

 

Must-Haves

Justin Thomas: He set the course record in benign conditions last year plus he won the event. Posting 20-under last week was a nice rust-busting performance and included a closing-round 64.

Gary Woodland: Trending in the right direction and had a taste of the lead last week. His 61 in Round 2 was just as remarkable as his 71 in the final round. In his last eight, seven have gone for top 25s.

Brooks Koepka: I’d be surprised in a small-field event if he didn’t hit the top 10 even in his first start of the year. I’ll be surprised when he doesn’t hit the top 10 in ANY event this year! He’s an auto-start in the PGATOUR game as he won’t play three events in this session. He showed no hangover with T7 at Dunhill Links after the Ryder Cup proving again he’s really a cy-Borg.

Marc Leishman: Romped last week (-26) to win by five and lost in a playoff here last year so it’s the perfect intersection for gamers. Riding the hot hand isn’t the worst angle to use this week but this field has added some girth because of the big prize money. His last back-to-back top-10 finishes were T3-WIN in the 2017 FedExCup Playoffs in events Nos. 2 and 3.

Louis Oosthuizen: Jet-setting is nothing new to him and he arrived in Malaysia last week from Scotland and cashed T5. Looks like the new Ping irons are firing right on schedule and he should get some serious looks in OAD this week since The Open isn’t being played at The Old Course.

Byeong-Hun An: He led the field in birdies last year in less-than-ideal MAKE SOME PARS, BRO!

Cameron Smith: Ranked in the top six last year in Par-5 scoring, birdie-or-better percentage and GIR as he finished third.

Sungjae Im: Cat is outta the bag, folks. You had your chance at Safeway before he claimed T4. Now he’s playing the course he grew up on learning the game. No value this week as everyone and their mother will be on him but I’m sticking him in for DEFENSE. He’s 20 so remember that if he doesn’t fire.

Tyrrell Hatton: Almost racked up his third consecutive Dunhill Links title two weeks ago but he blew a five-shot lead on Sunday. There’s a bit of edge with this fella but if putting is a key, he’s going to interested. In his last 10 starts worldwide he’s cashed T29 or better in nine with the only exception being T51 at Carnoustie.

Emiliano Grillo: As I’ve pointed out before he’s a statto’s dream as he checks multiple boxes across the board. With two top 10’s in his last four starts

Next Tier

Jason Day: He’s been highly average since a fantastic spring but he’ll enjoy the wide fairways to get him back on track this week. Hard to leave out the leading putter on TOUR last season as well.

Billy Horschel: I’d expect a solid bounce-back performance after T33 last week in Malaysia. The previous four events he cashed T11, T3, T3 and second so I doubt he’s forgotten how to play.

Paul Casey: Solid week last week as he was T9 fairways and T20 GIR and only took five bogeys. He’ll need a cooperative putter to contend but his ball-striking is safe and sound.

Hideki Matsuyama: Can’t fade and can’t endorse! Super contrarian play as he WD last week. In a vacuum, he’s in the top 10 no questions asked, but this isn’t a vacuum and I’m not doing any vacuuming!

Kevin Na: Perfect set-up for him as he won’t need to swing out of his shoes to keep up. Only made two bogeys last week in Malaysia so I’m jumping onboard.

Xander Schauffele: Learned a lesson here last year as he was 22-OVER in the three most-difficult rounds. If the weather cooperates, as it should, I’d

Charles Howell III: T19 last year because of 78 in the toughest conditions in Round 3. He was eight-under par in the other three rounds. It’s his time of year as well and he started with T5 last week.

Rafa Cabrera-Bello: Stuck all four rounds last year at par-or-better and collected T11. He led the field in GIR last year plus knocked the rust off last week. Lovely for any format.

Adam Scott: Wonderfully inconsistent over the last few months, I’d prefer him in poorer conditions where par is a better score. He was one of four players to play the weekend under-par last year in the toughest conditions. Easier conditions will mean he’ll need to hole more putts. Gulp.

Kyle Stanley: He hits it too well tee-to-green to dismiss in a thin field and will look to improve on T19 from last year.

 

Head’s Up!

 

Top 10 last week (if not mentioned above)

Chesson Hadley (T2): Feasted with 26 birdies but keeping a hot putter on a new set of greens seems to stretch.

Abraham Ancer (T5): Picked up his third top-10 paycheck in his last six worldwide points the arrow in a positive direction. Wonderful outsider.

Kevin Chappell (T10): T6 in fairways but only T62 in putts but he’s shown his chops are hard tracks before.

Si Woo Kim (T10): It comes and goes like the breeze but he should get the benefit of the doubt this week in his native Korea.

Shubhankar Sharma (T10): Broke a long drought as he tied Leishman for the most birdies with 28. His nine bogeys on a relatively easy track gives me pause on a much more difficult exercise this week.

 

Noted Players without a top 25 recently (last five or more starts)

DISCLAIMER: Three players from this last week hit the top 10 as Si Woo Kim, Chesson Hadley and Shubhankar Sharma all broke out.

Brian Harman: Last time he was a factor was T6 at Travelers; nothing better than T48 in his previous seven.

Beau Hossler: Nothing better than T30 in his last seven.

Branden Grace: Seven in-a-row since T25 at Shinnecock.

 

Shots in the Dark

Austin Cook: Usually sharp on the greens, Cook hit the middle of the pack last week but yet cashed T13. New courses don’t faze him as the 2017-18 rookie has been learning on the fly.

Joaquin Niemann: Another young guy that is going to force tough decisions weekly. I’ll lean on his ball-striking to keep things interesting.

Jamie Lovemark: Hard to look away from his weekend performance here last year in the toughest conditions when he posted 68-71 to finish T5.

Charl Schwartzel: Looking to see if he can emulate Oosthuizen as he jets over from England after T81 at the British Masters. Cashed T28 last year as he co-led the field in putts-per-GIR.

Whee Kim: Another who flourished here in tough conditions (fourth) a year ago makes for a lovely outsider due to his form. Home games mean more for certain guys and he’s already won in Korea earlier this year.

 

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out through Twitter or email me mikeglasscott@gmail.com.

 

 

 

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