This article is part of our Yahoo DFS Golf series.
The CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges
Jeju Island, South Korea
The Club at Nine Bridges - Par 72 - 7,241 yards
Field - 78 entrants
Purse - $9.75M
A gorgeous backdrop with views of Jeju Island's Mount Hallasan accompany the first stop of three along the PGA Tour's Asian Swing, kicking off this week at Nine Bridges in Korea for the third consecutive year. As 44 members of the Official World Golf Ranking's top 100 make the long trek overseas, the overall field of 78 entrants will be much stronger than we've seen throughout the past several stateside tournaments. The absence of a 36-hole cut with everyone guaranteed a slice of the $9.75M purse certainly raises interest levels, and the final two stops on the Asian Swing also feature a similarly-intriguing format. Massive putting surfaces at Nine Bridges have resulted in inflated GIR percentages , and softer and slower conditions also boost scoring opportunities. Scattered showers are expected throughout Round 2 on Friday, but a smaller-sized field shouldn't result in much of an advantage for a specific end of the tee-time spectrum.
Key Stats to Victory
Par-5: 550-600 scoring
Yahoo Value Picks - based on $200 salary cap
Cream of the Crop
Brooks Koepka - $50
The CJ Cup's defending champion already had an opportunity to shake off the offseason rust while making his 2019-20 debut at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Koepka missed the cut in that event, but Vegas festivities may have played a role in the uncharacteristic performance. We can't be totally sure because, you know, what happens there stays there. Koepka racked up 23 birdies and a pair of eagles here at Nine Bridges en route to his victory last year, pacing the field in par-4 scoring as well. With relatively soft pricing elsewhere and the absence of a 36-hole cut, it shouldn't be difficult to find a lineup spot for Koepka this week.
Justin Thomas - $46
Although Tommy Fleetwood and Hideki Matsuyama provide value at a slight discount among the $40-plus range, Koepka and Thomas have a significantly higher chance at actually winning the tournament. Matsuyama hasn't won since August of 2017 and Fleetwood has never proven capable of winning anywhere else than the European Tour, despite coming in No. 15 in the OWGR. Thomas leads this week's field in both SG: Tee-to-Green and SG: Total over his last 12 rounds, and he's coming off a fourth-place finish at the Safeway Open, where he gained more than one stroke on the field in each of the SG subcategories.
Sungjae Im - $37
Having returned home a bit early to make an appearance on the Korean Tour, Im collected a two-shot victory at the Genesis Championship to reach a career-best 44th in the OWGR heading into the CJ Cup. He's still overdue for a win on the PGA Tour, however, though he came close again a few weeks ago at the Sanderson Farms Championship, where he lost in a playoff to Sebastian Munoz. Im bounced back from the playoff defeat by gaining over five strokes on his approaches at the Safeway Open, but short-game struggles landed him just inside the top 50 in Napa. The 2018-19 Rookie of the Year would love nothing more than to hoist the hardware on his native soil.
Collin Morikawa - $34
Morikawa is 13th or better in both SG: Approach and birdie average through eight measured rounds to begin the 2019-20 campaign, which he kicked off with a top-10 finish at the Safeway Open. The Cal product has also gained strokes with the flat stick in four of his last five starts dating to the Wyndham Championship. Morikawa's ability to amass par-breakers is key in a format with four guaranteed rounds for everyone.
Viktor Hovland - $31
First in SG: Approach and second in SG: Tee-to-Green over his last 12 rounds, Hovland should be extremely popular at such an affordable expense, as the Norweigan just went T11-T10 at the BMW PGA Championship and The Greenbrier on the heels of a brilliant run during the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. It's only a matter of time before Hovland joins fellow Class of '19ers Morikawa and Matthew Wolff with a maiden win on the PGA Tour. It's an extremely small sample size, but Hovland currently paces his peers in scoring average this season.
Cameron Smith - $27
Speaking of miniature sample sizes, Smith is fostering recognition as one of the horses for the course this week after placing 3-T7 in two trips to the Club at Nine Bridges. The Aussie has posted a top-25 in two of three showings to begin the season, most recently rebounding from a missed cut at the Sanderson Farms Championship by tying for 13th at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. He excelled with the flat stick in Las Vegas, gaining over seven strokes putting to make up for a pedestrian performance off the tee. Smith will look for the ball striking to catch back up in Korea.
Matthew Wolff - $26
The former Oklahoma State standout gained just shy of five strokes off the tee in his 2019-20 debut at the Shriners event, ultimately tying for 18th despite somewhat lousy iron play for his standards. Wolff still tallied 21 birdies and two eagles at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas, providing his owners in daily Yahoo formats with over 100 fantasy points that week. As a result, don't expect very low ownership for the 20-year-old at Nine Bridges.
Andrew Putnam - $26
One of 21 top-50 players in the OWGR making the trek to Nine Bridges, Putnam sneaks in at just $26 despite gathering four top-25s over his last five starts worldwide. He's third in SG: Putting over his last 12 rounds, but his play off the tee has been a major concern. Putnam has gained strokes on approach shots in nine of his last 11 events, but he needs the flat stick to stay hot on Jeju Island.