Tough week for us in our opening betting preview of the 2019 PGA Tour season. The CIMB Classic in Malaysia was taken out by Aussie Marc Leishman who went slightly unnoticed by us in the lead up. The PGA Tour continues its three wek stint through Asia this weekend with the annual CJ Cup from the Nine Bridges Golf Club on Jeju Island, South Korea.
We take a look at the weekend’s action and give our betting tips for the event below.
Golf Digest has ranked Nine Bridges Golf Course as the best course in South Korea for six years straight and the course will host it’s second CJ Cup for Fed Ex Cup points this season. The course plays as a 7,184 yard par 72, keeping in the theme of shorter courses that we have experienced in Asia over the past few weeks. A lot of the players will have never played the Nine Bridges Golf Course before, and the rest will have only played it once or twice.
It’s hard to get a read on what will be important this weekend due to the limited professional events that have been played at Nine Bridges, but when this is the case, one key factor that usually comes up trumps is pure ball striking. Average-poor putters are usually brought back into the field on account of limited players having familiarity of the greens and their speeds/undulations. We’ll be looking at clean ball strikers who pick a yardage, walk up to the ball and strike that yardage on a consisntent basis.
This weekend will offer a pretty stacked field considering the tournament is in South Korea. Last year’s winner Justin Thomas will be back to defend his title and he’ll bring with him a number of top ranked PGA players. Marc Leishman will be looking to make it back to back wins in Asia after winning the CIMB Classic last week while the likes of Brooks Koepka, Hideki Matsuyama, Jason Day, Tyrrell Hatton, Paul Casey, Gary Woodland and Kyle Stanley make up the rest of the top contenders in the field.
The hometown contingent will be the World No.94, Sungjae Im, who grew up playing on the Nine Bridges Course and will know it much better than the rest of the field.
Reigning champion Justin Thomas starts as the favourite for the event and has been in great form over the past few weeks. He was one of the standouts for Team USA in the Ryder Cup a couple of weeks ago and was great in the CIMB Classic on the weekend, finishing tied for fifth just five shots back from the runaway winner in Leishman. Thomas will no doubt be around the mark again this weekend and a saver bet on him to finish in the Top 10 would be the most prudent. However, we are going hunting for value this weekend.
We love the value of the hometown player this weekend in Sungjae Im. The 20 year old will be one of the few players on course this weekend that has true knowledge of the speed, undulations and firmness of the greens and has shown some ability throughout his short PGA Tour career so far. Was tied for fourth just two weeks ago at the Safeway Open in Napa and is one of the best ranked players on tour in strokes gained on the green.
Our second tip this weekend comes in the form of the big American Brooks Koepka. Koepka was arguably the most consistent player in all of golf in 2018 and will be looking to carry that form over to the 2019 season. He is arguably the cleanest ball striker in the game which, as highlighted above, we will be taking very seriously this weekend. Ranks among the top players on tour in strokes gained both off the tee and with longer irons so should have a strong showing this weekend in his first tournament since the Ryder Cup loss.
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