The PGA Tour heads to South Korea this week for the second CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges
CJ Cup Preview, TV Times
After the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, the PGA Tour’s Asian Swing is in its second week as it takes in Jeju Island in South Korea for the lucrative CJ Cup & Nine Bridges.
Korean golf is huge at the moment, and the country is riding the wave with its third high-level Tour event in a row.
Two weeks ago it hosted the LPGA’s UL International Crown and last week it had the LPGA Hana Bank Championship.
Both events saw huge attendances and we should see that again this week with the men.
The CJ Cup has attracted a stacked field because of its place in the calendar before the WGC-HSBC Champions next week and the extremely high purse.
The winner this week will pick up a whopping $1.71m which is more than all of the WGC and FedEx Cup Playoff events.
The field is headlined by world number three Brooks Koepka, defending champion Justin Thomas, Jason Day, Hideki Matsuyama, last week’s winner Marc Leishman and four of Europe’s winning Ryder Cup team.
The four Europeans are Paul Casey, Tyrrell Hatton, Ian Poulter and Alex Noren.
Last year, Justin Thomas beat Marc Leishman in a playoff which was contested over the brilliant risk-reward par-5 18th.
Thomas triumphed in what was his fourth victory of 2017.
The home nation is well represented this week with Sungjae Im a good shout at a high-place finish due to his T4 at the Safeway Open two weeks ago.
Other Koreans playing include 2017 Players Champion Si Woo Kim, Whee Kim (who was fourth here last year) and Sung Kang.
There’s no cut so this really is a ‘take your wheelbarrow’ event where a grand total of $9.25m is up for grabs.
The course at Nine Bridges is one of the finest in Asia as Korea’s only world top 100 course and has previously played host to LPGA Tour events.
Designed by Ronald Fream and David Dale it’s set across rolling pineland on the lower slopes of dormant volcano Mount Halla.
The weather looks like delivering some cool and breezy conditions, meaning scoring should be fairly high again.
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Venue: Nine Bridges, Jeju Island, South Korea
Date: Oct 18-21
Course stats: par 72, 7,196 yards
Defending champion: Justin Thomas (-9)
Thursday 19 – Sky Sports Golf from 3am, Sky Sports Main Event 3.30am
Friday 20 – Sky Sports Golf from 3am, Sky Sports Main Event 5am
Saturday 21 – Sky Sports Golf from 3am
Sunday 22 – Sky Sports Golf from 3am, Sky Sports Main Event 4am
Justin Thomas – The world number four was the USA’s best player at the Ryder Cup and continued his form with a T5 last week at the CIMB Classic. The defending champion will be tough to beat if he plays well.
Brooks Koepka – How can you not take notice of Koepka? The American had a decent Ryder Cup and then played in the Dunhill Links Championship where he finished T7th. He picked up the PGA Tour Player of the Year accolade last week and is in search of his first regular PGA Tour win since the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February 2015. He has won twice in Asia the last two years (Dunlop Phoenix Open 2016, 2017) so clearly enjoys playing in the Far East. His long-hitting will also be an advantage in the cool Korean weather.
Hideki Matsuyama – The Japanese star hasn’t missed a cut since the Open and is due a victory after a dry spell stretching back to August 2017 and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Hideki is on a very decent run of form with top 15s in all four of the FedEx Cup events including top 4s at the Dell Tech Championship and Tour Championship plus a T11th at the Wyndham Championship in the week before the Playoffs.
Key hole: 18th. It’s a fabulous par-5 offering different options for the players. If the choice is to be bold from the tee then a drive down the left side over two bunkers will open up a landing area from which the island green would be reachable in two shots. Shorter hitters will need to play to the right from the tee and then lay-up into a landing zone from which to approach the surface with the third shot. It’s a great risk/reward finishing hole.