This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
THE CJ CUP AT NINE BRIDGES
Nine Bridges Golf Club (7,241 yards, par 72)
Purse: $9.75 million
Winner: $1,755,000 and 500 FedExCup points
The PGA Tour's three tournament Asian Swing begins with the third edition of the CJ Cup in South Korea. It features the best field of the season thus far, and not surprisingly, the biggest purse. There will be no cut in this 78-man invitational. The two previous winners at Nine Bridges, Justin Thomas (2017) and Brooks Koepka (2018), will headline the field this week. Jordan Spieth will be making his season debut looking to find some of his old form after a couple disappointing seasons where he failed to make the TOUR Championship. Some of the other notables include Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia, Hideki Matsuyama, Phil Mickelson, and Gary Woodland. Scoring conditions figure to be even better than last year, when the golfers averaged a round of 70.95, due to heavy rains in recent weeks and relatively moderate winds.
Key Stats to Victory
If it's soft with little wind, rest assured the best golfers in the world will tear any course up, and Nine Bridges will be no different. That being said, the name of the game will be maximizing scoring chances. Players that have a strong approach game should see great results this week. The second key will be cashing in on those opportunities. These greens will be unusual for many PGA Tour players, running at roughly 10 on the Stimpmeter, but international players will be much more familiar with that type of speed. Lastly, bombers will produce good value considering the fairways will play wider and the ball will be less likely to roll out because of the heavy rains.
FanDuel Value Picks
Justin Thomas ($12,000)
Thomas has been as consistent as anyone, having not finished outside the top 12 in any of his last seven starts worldwide. As mentioned above, Thomas won the inaugural event in 2017, when winds were extremely blustery. In much better conditions in 2018, he finished T36. The 26-year-old already knocked the rust off in Napa two weeks back with a strong T4 finish. Thomas is one of, if not the best, approach player in the world.
Tommy Fleetwood ($10,900)
Another man that has been very consistent over the last several months, Fleetwood posted top-15 finishes in seven of his last ten starts worldwide. There will be no rust to be found with the Englishman, who went right over the to European Tour after the conclusion of the PGA Tour playoffs and posted a pair of top-10s in three starts. Fleetwood ranked eighth in scoring average, 12th in SG: Total, and first in scrambling percentage on the PGA Tour last season.
Sungjae Im ($10,300)
Last season's Rookie of the Year is off to a strong start this season. Im has two top-20s in three starts, including a runner-up at the Sanderson Farms event. He also just won the Genesis Championship last week on the Korean PGA Tour. Im figures to have plenty of motivation this week, playing an official PGA Tour event in his home country.
Rafa Cabrera Bello ($10,100)
Cabrera Bello is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago in Spain. That is one of six top-15 finishes over his last nine starts. He didn't have a great season last year, but his ball striking and putting have been really sharp over the last few months. Cabrera Bello has also taken fondly to Nine Bridges, with finishes of T11 and T3 the last two years here.
Longer Shots with Value
Cameron Smith ($9,600)
After nine straight finishes outside the top 50 early in the year, the Aussie scored top-25 finishes in four of his last seven starts, with the most recent being a T13 a couple weeks ago in Vegas. Smith ranks eighth in putting average and 10th in birdie average thus far this season. He is another with strong course history, posting a third in 2017 and a T7 in 2018.
Tyrrell Hatton ($9,100)
The Englishman brings terrific value here. He owns finishes of T15 and T18 in his last two starts over in Europe. The putter is where Hatton makes his money, as he ranks 18th on the European Tour in putts per GIR. Hatton finished T14 in his debut at the CJ Cup last year.
Corey Conners ($8,500)
A big key this week will be piling up easy birdie opportunities, and few were better at that last year than Conners. Last season he ranked ninth in both SG: Approach and SG: Tee-to-green. The Canadian also was first in both GIR percentage and proximity. Conners notched a solid T13 his last time out in Napa two weeks ago. The putter is the only concern, but he may find these very slow greens much more to his liking.
Jazz Janewattananond ($8,100)
Along with possibly the best name in golf, Janewattananond is one of the most experienced 23-year-olds you will find, turning professional way back in 2010 at the age of 14. Janewattananond is atop the Asian Tour's Order of Merit this year by a healthy margin thanks to two victories. He owns eight top-six finishes in his last 13 starts worldwide. You won't find another player in his price range with more upside at a course style and climate he will be very familiar with.
Strategy Tips for this week (based on a 60k standard salary cap)
With this being the best field of the PGA Tour season thus far, I'm placing heavy value on those who produced good results in recent weeks and avoiding those who haven't shown anything yet. By that token, I will be holding off on players like Jordan Spieth and Jason Day, as neither has played since mid-August. I don't see enough value in the bottom portion of the field – under $8,000 – to warrant selecting both heavy favorites in Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka this week. There is plenty of value in the $9,000-$10,000 range to make a stout, well-rounded roster for the opening leg of the PGA Tour's Asian Swing.