THE CJ CUP is in its sixth year and will be held at its fourth different venue since inception. While it has moved around a lot, the venues it has been featured at have been some of the best on the PGA TOUR, and this year is no different with the move to Congaree in South Carolina.
The event remains a no cut 78-man field and will feature six of the world’s top-10 players. A prize purse of $10.75 million is attached to this event. The field is led by world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler who is making his first official fall start since finishing second at the TOUR Championship last August. Joining him will be Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas. Both Keegan Bradley and Rickie Fowler (who finished first and second last week) will be in the field this week as well. As mentioned above, the 78-man field has no Friday cut attached to it and will see all players in the field get in four rounds for DFS.
Congaree Golf Club—Ridgeland, South Carolina
Par 71, 7,655 yards; Greens: Bermudagrass
Congaree is a long Par 71 that is located in the lower part of South Carolina, not far from the Georgia border. The venue is quite new by PGA TOUR standards, created in 2018 by noted designer Tom Fazio, who has also had a hand in several other PGA TOUR courses (design and redesign) — Quail Hollow, Conway Farms and the Seaside Course at Sea Island being his most significant.
Congaree is a mostly flat course that is built around a lot of natural hazards on a big piece of land. It’s nearly the complete opposite of what we see at many classic venues where old trees and small greens make for a claustrophobic experience. There are some older trees that Congaree is built around, but many of the holes are sprawling and fairways run off into natural sandy waste areas with little rough. There’s also a decent amount of water sprinkled around the course that the holes are built around. Visually, its best comparison might be to Pinehurst No. 2, which was last seen at the US Open in 2014 and is also located nearby in North Carolina.
The venue’s length is intimidating since the course features plenty of long holes, including three par 4s on the front nine that will play well over 500 yards. The eighth hole normally plays as a par 5 for amateurs, and that change to a par 4 for this week may help keep the players from reaching absurd under-par scores. Despite some longer holes, it does appear like there will be some birdie opportunities since the natural waste areas likely won’t deter players from hammering their driver on most holes — and the venue doesn’t feature a ton of doglegs. Two of the par 5s will be reachable for a lot of the field. There will be two par 4s that play significantly under 400 yards and could be drivable for a lot of the field.
The venue hosted the 2021 Palmetto Championship and that year saw a large variety of styles at the top. Winner Garrick Higgo gained 4.6 strokes on approach and was also red hot on the greens, gaining 3.8 strokes with the flatstick. Being competent to above average off the tee will undoubtedly help your cause at Congaree, which plays long even by PGA TOUR standards. However, the Palmetto also saw two players (Doc Redman and Bo Van Pelt) finish in a tie for second despite losing strokes off the tee that week.
Taming these greens and being accurate on your mid to longer approaches likely matters more than power this week. Emphasizing approaches >175 and short game stats — along with players who play well in this region in general — is a good way to begin research.
2022 Outlook: The weather is likely to be a non-factor. The temperatures aren’t hot (as you’d expect, it’s the fall), but we’ll still see highs in the 70-78 range with Sunday slated to be the warmest day of the three. With no rain in sight, any chance of this course playing more receptive than it did in 2021, may go out the window. Wind won’t be a factor either, as gusts are slated to stay in the mild range at 5-7 mph all week. For showdown, the slightly cooler temperatures in the A.M. may make the conditions better for later starters. There’s not much to worry about though, ignoring the weatherman when making lineups is completely fine this week.
Last 5 winners and Winning Trends
*the event was held at The Summit Club last year
2021—Rory McIlroy -23 (Collin Morikawa)
2020—Jason Kokrak -20 (over Xander Schauffele -18)
**the previous events were all held in South Korea at The Club at Nine Bridges
2019—Justin Thomas -20 (over Danny Lee -18)
2018—Brooks Koepka -21 (over Gary Woodland -17)
2017—Justin Thomas -9 (over Marc Leishman playoff)
· Thomas won at The Club at Nine Bridges in 2019. He came into that event with scorching form, having won a playoff event three starts earlier while also landing top-5 finishes in his previous two starts.
· Thomas also posted a fall playoff win in THE CJ CUP in 2017. That win marked his third win in seven starts.
· Brooks Koepka was also coming off a solid playoff stretch when he won this event, but had also won the PGA Championship five events prior.
· Three of the last four winners of THE CJ CUP had just landed wins in their prior five starts against elite fields, and each of the last five winners here had landed at least one top-10 finish in a FedEx Cup playoff event (Kokrak was T6 at the BMW Championship in 2020 and McIlroy was T4 at the same event in 2021).
Finding Values (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their DraftKings Sportsbook odds of winning this week.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
1. Andrew Putnam ($7,400; T2-T12): Putnam has been on fire over the last few months. The American has now made 11 cuts in a row and posted a T2 in Japan last week. He’s now gained 1.0 stroke or more putting in nine straight events. As long as that club stays good, so will he.
2. Tom Hoge ($7,700; T9-T4): Hoge kept his roll going with a T9 at the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP last week. The winner at Pebble Beach in February of 2022, Hoge already has three top-12 finishes on the fall swing. He’s displayed elite ball-striking of late gaining over 4.0 strokes on approach alone in his last two measured starts.
3. Emiliano Grillo ($7,900; T4-T73-T5): Grillo grabbed yet another top-5 finish at the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP last week. It was the Argentine’s fourth such finish of that nature over his last nine PGA TOUR starts. Grillo’s found confidence with the putter and that’s led to a renaissance throughout the bag. A breakout win feels like it’s on the horizon.
4. Keegan Bradley ($8,400; win-T5): Bradley grabbed his first win since 2018 last week at the ZOZO. The American very much caught the eclectic field off guard and grinded his way to a one shot win on a tougher course. He’s now posted seven top finishes since the start of 2022.
5. Rickie Fowler ($7,400; T2-MC-T6): Don’t look now, but it may be comeback season for Fowler, who has posted two top-10 finishes through three fall starts. Fowler couldn't finish things off at the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP, but has gained over 2.0 strokes on approach in each of his last three starts. The coaching change he made this offseason seems to be working.
DRAFTKINGS DFS STRATEGY
Cash Games: Start with Scheffler
While we have seen great play from Jon Rahm ($10,900) of late, we can also save lots of cash by starting lineups with Scheffler ($10,400), who isn’t that far away from the site of his Masters triumph. I wrote about Scheffler below, but taking the savings with him will also let you fit in players like Viktor Hovland ($9,200) and Sam Burns ($9,300), who should be able to rip driver on these big fairways and set up their elite approach games for lots of birdie looks. Further down, the price tags we’re getting on Aaron Wise ($7,800) and Russell Henley ($7,300) also make them worth taking in this format. Both rate out as top ball-strikers in long-term form, and neither have to worry about jet lag as they were off last week.
Tournaments: Make room for Morikawa
As disappointing as the weekend in Japan was for Collin Morikawa ($9,000) backers, it’s still wise to consider that the American enters this week top five in strokes gained approach stats and second in proximity from >200 yards — over the last 50 rounds of play. Morikawa should be lightly owned and at $9,000 is incredibly too cheap considering the upside he brings to GPPs. Further down, I’d also give the likes of Jason Day ($7,500) and Si Woo Kim ($7,800) a look. Both showed well at the Shriners, and while Kim faltered last week in Japan, he does rank top five in long iron proximity. Day is coming in off a great week where he gained 9.4 strokes ball-striking against the field.
MY PICK: Scottie Scheffler ($10,400)
Scheffler has played the least amount of golf of any of the top players in the field this week. While some may take that as a hindrance, last season Rory McIlroy was able to come in off a six week rest after the Tour Championship and promptly grab a win at this event, having only his Ryder Cup duties to worry about in between.
Scheffler has played a very similar schedule this fall with the President’s Cup being his only official competition since losing out to McIlroy at the Tour Championship. Further, Congaree should set up well for the American who won his first major not far from here in Georgia. Congaree may be long but it emphasizes the need for strong tee to green and around the green games the last time we saw it. That should push the advantage to Scheffler who ranks first in strokes gained tee to green stats over the last 50 rounds and has gained 7.0 strokes or more tee to green in five of his last nine PGA TOUR starts.
It sounds crazy but we also have to feel like we’re getting good value on Scheffler this week in DFS and betting. As the third most expensive player, his lack of play has finally depressed his DraftKings price a bit and at +1100 on the DraftKings Sportsbook he has what feels like a bet-able number for the first time in forever in the outright market. Don’t feel poorly about building betting cards and DFS lineups around the No. 1 player this week.
MY SLEEPER: Davis Riley ($6,900)
As bad as Davis Riley was in Japan last week, there’s no reason to jump off him after one bad start. The American clearly had some adjustment issues with the new time zone but ended his week strongly with weekend rounds of 67-68, which was just one stroke worse than winner Keegan Bradley. The fact Riley only managed a T67 finish last week in the 78-man field speaks to just how abject his start was.
Riley is no stranger to quick bounce backs, and it’s worth noting that his playoff loss at the Valspar last season came after a Missed Cut and a T63 finish. Riley will certainly be able to build on those weekend rounds in Japan at Congaree, and he’ll be playing in a part of the world that he’s much more familiar with in South Carolina. The last time we visited the South Eastern US, Riley posted a T19 at the Sanderson Farms and had a share of the lead after round one. He ranks top 25 in proximity from 175-200 yards and >200 yards over the last 50 rounds. Riley has the type of all-around game that should flourish at Congaree where larger fairways will undoubtedly help contain his wildness off the tee. With no cut to worry about and a salary that’s now under 7k, this is the time to chance the talented 25-year-old who has proven he has the talent to take on and compete with the best on the PGA TOUR.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is wavegoodbye) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.