It’s rare that a city gets two PGA Tour events in a row, but it’s happened twice in 2020, the weirdest of all years.
In July, Muirfield Village in Ohio became the first course to host consecutive PGA events: the Jack Nicklaus Memorial and the Workday Classic. And while it won’t be at the same course, Las Vegas is hosting its second PGA event in as many weeks, the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek Golf Course.
For the past three years, the CJ Cup has been held at the Nine Bridge Country Club in Jeju Island, South Korea. It’s a limited field of 78 with the top 60 players on the tour joined by a selection of elite Korean golfers. It was relocated from Korea for this year due to the effects of Covid 19 on the country. It’s the first time since the U.S. Open a month ago that so many top-flight players have gathered, and it occurs just a month before the Masters in November (still seems strange to say that).
The legendary Shadow Creek course was designed by Tom Fazio and built by Steve Wynn in 1990 as his private course. It’s on 350 acres in what can be a somewhat sketchy area in North Las Vegas. High berms shield it from the surrounding neighborhood, but within the grounds, it’s a joy to behold for any golf enthusiast. Undulating fairways and small greens greet golfers. It was the site of the Tiger Woods-Phil Mickelson match play in 2018, which ended on a chip-shot shootout in the dusk. It’s now owned by MGM Resorts and open for players and a limited number of golfers at a price tag of $500 a round. So the first real tournament to be held at Shadow Creek should be compelling.
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It’s the field that brings in the excitement. Five of the top six players are contending, and it would have been six of six if Dustin Johnson hadn’t tested positive for Covid-19 early in the week. Bryson DeChambeau also withdrew, after enduring a brutal finish at the Shriners Classic last week. We won’t see him again until the Masters.
Let’s start with the “hot” players who have contended over the last couple of months.
- You might not think Rory McElroy’s hot, because he hasn’t really been close in any of the important tournaments over that time. But when you realize he has three straight Top 12s, a bet on him reaching the Top 10 wouldn’t be so crazy, especially with odds like +135.
- The same bet on Justin Rose is also a solid choice. Rose is 11-2 to make the Top 10 and although his playoff and U.S. Open performances weren’t stellar, this is his kind of course.
- And speaking of hot, Matthew Wolff really fits that description. Although he faded in the U.S. Open on the final day, he was strong all week. He’s 2-1 to make the Top 10.
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But it’s the elite golfers who have the edge at this event:
- Jon Rahm is favored to win at 8-1.
- Justin Thomas, who loves small-field events and courses like Shadow Creek, is 10-1.
- More value is achieved with Cory Morikawa at 25-1 or Daniel Berger at 30-1.
- How about Sergio Garcia, who won the Sanderson Farms Championship in Mississippi three weeks ago versus a thin field. You can get 50-1 on him in Vegas.
- Or how about Rickey Fowler, who’s due for a bounce-back at 60-1?
- And then there’s the often erratic Bubba Watson at 80-1
So sit back and enjoy the scenery at Shadow Creek and study the games of golf’s best pros. It’s a great tune-up for the Masters—for golfers and bettors alike.