CJ Cup at Nine Bridges Fantasy Preview
By Rocco Minsk This week presents a new course on Tour for the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges. It’s always wonderful getting a new course to analyze and predict, especially one as beautiful as this one. The Club at Nine Bridges is ranked as one of the top-100 golf courses in the world and it is a stunner, playing at an altitude of 3500 feet.
This is an amalgamation of two courses. The front nine has is tree lined with curving and narrow fairways. The second is the “Scotland side” designed to play more like a links course. While the course is not overly long, and has four par 5s, my initial read of the course is that there are a fair number of places for golfers to find themselves in trouble. There are five holes on the course where there is water in close proximity to greens and players can easily drop a double bogey after ending up in the drink. In other words, when on a normal course you would see a player missing the green into the rough, here there could be a penalty attached.
There is nothing overly difficult about this course save for greens that don’t seem to be the largest, but it won’t be shocking to see a player make a precipitous drop on the leaderboard with a couple of misplaced shots. Lots of this is just opinion as we have no empirical data on this course, but I am going to be favoring the ball strikers this week as accuracy gets a premium over distance. Key stats are driving accuracy and greens in regulations. It is hard to pinpoint the distance of approach shots to narrow down approach stats because this course is at an altitude that we usually don’t see on Tour. While it may shorten the distance of the course, it may be a double edge sword causing errant tee shots and approaches.
In this event, we have 16 Korean golfers, which can be used to your advantage. Most DFS players will be focused on the two big names among this group, but if you look a little lower down, there may be some value golfers playing in their home country. I would not veer from our usual suspects, but maybe supplement them with a local player with upside to save some money.
Like last week, I will only spotlight 10 players or so given that this is a 78 golfer field with no cut line. Without further ado, here are our picks:
Paul Casey ($11600) Of the elite golfers on Tour (and yes, Casey has earned entry into that club), Casey is the best ball striker. He hits fairways and greens and methodically stays atop the leaderboard. Last week threatened to be an aberration, but Casey rebounded mightily as he went from 5-over after round one to seventh place overall. He is a great course fit and carries over some momentum to this week.
Tony Finau ($10200) The story on Finau has always been that once his putter even remotely catches up to the rest of his game, that Finau would take the next step towards joining the Tour elite. Finau gained 3.394 strokes putting en route to a second place showing at the Safeway Open. Added to his pair of 7th place showing in his last two events of the FedEx Cup playoffs and Finau is in red hot form
Xander Schauffele ($9800) I admit to some skepticism last week when Schauffele’s price rose to reflect his Tour Championship win, but Schauffele lived up to his price and this is a course that suits his game well with his ball striking prowess. Schaufelle should be ridden until he either has a bad tournament or his price rises further from here.
Keegan Bradley ($9100) I usually have to swallow hard when starting Bradley at a high price. Normally, Bradley achieves blockbuster value when starting in the low $7000 range and does not show up when he is a high priced option. However, continuing with the ball striking theme, Bradley is 6th on Tour this year (even with his missed cut at Safeway) and was 5th on Tour last year.
Daniel Berger ($8700) I was expecting Berger to be priced in the mid 9000s this week, but I suppose he is penalized for his middling performance in the FedEx Cup playoffs last year. Still, Berger is a better golfer than many of the golfers above him in price. Berger likes to pile on birdies in no cut events (at least the ones where he stays in the event after one swing – never forget).
Gary Woodland ($8300) Woodland enjoys a reputation as a big hitter, but what does not get as much recognition is his prowess for hitting greens. He was 11th on Tour in 2017 and that accuracy will serve him well on this course where there is water everywhere. His season got off to a nice start last week in Malaysia after a tough 2017
Chez Reavie ($7900) Speaking of golfers who hit greens over and over again, Reavie is fast becoming one of the most consistent options on Tour. Reavie has been in the top 40 eight of his last nine starts and in the top 20 in his last three. This type of price is a bargain for a golfer who may not contend, but will have a strong showing nearly every week.
Kyle Stanley ($7200) The best ball striker on the Tour. This course on first glance reminded a little of TPC Sawgrass, where Stanley almost broke through last year. Stanley does well on difficult shorter tracks due to his accuracy hitting greens. While I will not go so far as to say that this course will be as hard as TPC Avenel played last year, Stanley does a great job of staying out of trouble, until he has to take the putter from his bag.
Jeunghun Wang ($7000) Most DFS players will focus on more well known names if trying to choose a Korean golfer and those are Sung Kang and Byeong-Hun An. But Kang is priced to perfection and An has been an unmitigated disaster with his putter. Looking at the OWGR, Wang is the 86th ranked player in the world, in close proximity to Kang and An in the rankings and is a three time winner on the European Tour. He is a little inconsistent, but has upside.
Younghan Song ($6900) My favorite Korean golfer of the week will be extremely low owned if you are playing GPP. Most will look at his difficulties in the majors, but since September 3 on the Japan Tour and Asian Tour has been an absolute beast. He has five top 10s in his last six starts and is a different golfer than he was when he MC’s at the PGA Championship. Nobody has heard of this guy, yet I would not be shocked if he goes for a top-20 finish, which is all you need at this price.
Justin Thomas ($12100) I recommended Thomas in this space last week and he did not return value. Watching the TV broadcast, this was not the same JT that was the hottest golfer on the planet at the end of last season. In Malaysia, he looked tired and unconfident. One more week and one more country and that may not get any better. Plus, JT is good for a big number or two in any tourney and this course gives him ample opportunity.
J.B. Holmes ($8400) DK pricing is based off Vegas odds, which are based on name and Holmes is a big name, but he is ill suited for this course. His game was spotty in 2017 and he was unable to put together four solid rounds all season. Given his tendency to similarly hit one practically sideways, this course is not a good fit for him. His 59th place finish in his last event on the Euro Tour does not inspire confidence.