This article is part of our Golf Picks series.
THE CJ CUP @ SUMMIT Betting Preview
The PGA Tour stays in Las Vegas for this week's CJ Cup, which features an exclusive 78-man field for this no-cut event. Held in South Korea since its addition to the schedule in 2017, the pandemic forced the tournament stateside last year, and it will remain here for another year.
Seven of the top 10 in the world are also in action, headlined by tournament favorite and world No. 2, Dustin Johnson, who checks in at 10-1 odds. Jason Kokrak returns as the defending champion, one year after defeating Xander Schauffele by two shots at Shadow Creek Golf Course despite entering the week with 100-1 odds. The field also includes 12 Koreans, so although the tournament will be held overseas, the country will still be well-represented.
We have the fun challenge of dissecting a first-time stop on the PGA Tour for the sixth time this season, as the venue moved from nearby Shadow Creek to The Summit Club this year. Listed as a par-72 at approximately 7,450-yards, the Vegas elevation makes the track play closer to 7,100 yards, and thus it is relatively short by Tour standards. With four par-5s and three par-4s that are driveable for the longer hitters, expect things to play out similarly to last week, when there will be ample opportunities for birdies. Offering scenic mountain views and backdrops of the Las Vegas Strip, the course's main defense is the many bunkers that come into play off the tee and around the green. Water will be in play on seven holes.
A new course provides a good time to get back to the basics of betting. Target golfers that excel with their ball striking -- the combination of driving and approach -- and look to find value with under-the-radar players.
All odds via DraftKings Sportsbook as of 1:00 PM ET Tuesday.
Striking it Straight
The following golfers gained the most strokes, on a per-round basis, off the tee and on approach combined over their last five tournaments:
At first glance, Hovland's T44 finish at last week's Shriners Children's Open looks mediocre, but he led the field in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and was seventh in approach, so his ball striking is in as good of shape as anyone's. While he will need to have a better showing with his short game, that area typically has the most variance from week-to-week. The oddsmakers seem to be sleeping on Hovland this week at 28-1, which is simply too generous in a short field. Looking to keep a hot streak going is Burns, and I'm starting to wonder if there's a course that doesn't fit his eye. He won the Sanderson Farms Championship despite losing strokes on the putting surface, and you'd be hard-pressed to find something he doesn't do well. The main question mark with him is how he will respond to consecutive taxing weeks, as he looked fatigued Sunday. Burns appears to be priced appropriately -- just outside the top five choices -- at 22-1.
Louis Oosthuizen (22-1)
I don't think Oosthuizen's stellar 2020-21 season gets talked about enough, probably because it lacked a win. Nonetheless, he posted four top-3 finishes in the six majors held during the campaign and also three other top-10s, so he seems bound to break his winless drought any time now. Oosthuizen is coming off a top-15 finish at TPC Summerlin, where he ranked third in SG: Tee-to-Green.
Scottie Scheffler (28-1)
Speaking of golfers that are overdue for a win, Scheffler is a great target on a course where you need to go low, as he ranked seventh in birdie-or-better percentage last season. He lacks a weakness in his game and drives it straight for a long hitter, finishing 65th in driving accuracy last season. Scheffler looked great at the Ryder Cup, failing to lose a match and beating Jon Rahm in singles.
Tyrrell Hatton (40-1)
Hatton found success at another Tom Fazio designed golf course earlier this summer, finishing runner-up at the Palmetto Championship at Congaree. He's also coming off a T2 finish on the European Tour two weeks ago. Hatton excels with his ball striking, ranking 29th in SG: Off-the-Tee and 13th in approach last season.
Top-10 Finish: 7-1
Talk about a generous price for the lefty, who has posted five top-10s in 21 starts in 2021, with three of those coming against quality fields. Harman is better suited for shorter courses, relying on his precision game off the tee to set up the rest of his game. That should make him a good course fit at Summit.
Top-5 Finish: 9-1
Tringale's iron play and short game are up there with the better players on Tour, and although he is quite average with driver, that likely won't hurt him much this week. Although winning has eluded Tringale, he constantly puts himself in contention, with only one missed cut and seven top-30 results over his last 10 starts. It's only a matter of time before he puts everything together and finds himself in the hunt in the final round.
Top-5 Finish: 10-1
Albeit at a different course, Henley finished T3 at the event last year. He followed that up with a top-5 at the ZOZO Championship, and wouldn't you know, those were both smaller events with strong fields. Henley led the pack in SG: Approach at the Shriners Children's Open last week, so he clearly has warmed up to the Vegas conditions. Five of Henley's last eight starts netted a top-25 result.
Johnson's A-game may be better than Schauffele's, but in a H2H matchup we're looking for consistency, and Schauffele finished top-25 in 73 percent of his starts last season while DJ Did so just 61 percent of the time. Johnson had all kinds of success at the Ryder Cup, but will that translate that back into the stroke-play format? Johnson is still searching for his first PGA Tour top-5 in 2021.
Casey has played better than his recent results indicate, as his ball striking has been on point. However, he has lost strokes both around the green and on it in each of his last three appearances. Prior to that, he posted back-to-back top-5 results. Meanwhile, Ancer struggled last week as a chalky play, losing a whopping 6.2 strokes on approach over two rounds.
First Round Leader
Collin Morikawa (25-1)
Morikawa is a Las Vegas resident who plays primarily at The Summit Club when he's in town, so he will certainly have home-field advantage this week. That should be a nice edge for someone whose only weakness is with the putter, as there shouldn't be any surprises with the slopes of the greens. Morikawa's last first-round lead came in June at the Memorial.