The CJ Cup was added to the PGA Tour rota in 2017 as part of the three tournament Asia Swing. The event is normally played at the Nine Bridges club located on Jeju Island, South Korea. However, as a direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s tournament was relocated from South Korea to Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The other tournaments making up the Asia Swing include the ZOZO Championship and HSBC Champions. Next week’s ZOZO Championship is being relocated from Japan to Sherwood Country Club in California. The WGC HSBC Champions which was scheduled to be played in China is cancelled.
The CJ Cup will feature a field of 78 golfers comprising of the following;
- The highest ranked player of Korean nationality from the Asian Tour Order of Merit
- Up to five players designated by the KPGA
- The Top 3 available players of Korean nationality from the Official World Golf Ranking
- The remainder of the field will be made up of the leading players from the 2019-20 FedEx Cup points list and sponsor exemptions
This week’s host course is Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Tom Fazio designed golf course was developed in 1990. It was built on a 350-acre site and is reported to have cost in the region of $60M.
The Vegas hotel and real-estate magnate, Steve Wynn developed the course as a private club to entertain his clients and celebrity friends. It was acquired by MGM Resorts International in 2000 and the only way to get through the gates at Shadow Creek is inside an MGM Resorts International courtesy limo.
You must stay at an MGM hotel to play Shadow Creek, however, this is limited to Monday through Thursday. The rest of the time it is invitees only. The course is only a 30 minute drive from the Las Vegas Strip and the $600 green fee makes it one of the most expensive courses open to the general public.
Every one of Shadow Creek’s 18 holes make a signature statement. The dramatic landscape includes a network of creeks and lakes, waterfalls, lush gardens and are framed by mountains in the background.
“There have been many wonderful golf courses created in the last several decades and I honestly believe Shadow Creek is in a separate category. It is very difficult to explain even after a visit. The total feel is distinctive and captivating. I believe it should be labeled one-of a-kind! I am honored to be a part of Shadow Creek“Tom Fazio
It was originally 7,239 yards but during a 2008 redesign it was extended to 7,560 yards. Tiger Woods and Fred Couples share the old course record of 60. Dustin Johnson holds the best score of 66 on the redesigned longer version.
During construction, over three million cubic yards of dirt was dug up from the desert floor and placed around the perimeter to block the view from the outside. There was 20,000+ trees planted around the sides of the course and in and around each individual hole, creating a unique sense of privacy.
“Every hole at Shadow Creek has characteristics that make a score of par an achievement”Tom Fazio
From the sculpted tee boxes to the dramatic green complexes, Fazio delivered on the vision of Steve Wynn. He fashioned a ‘miracle’ from the ground up on a flat piece of desolate land.
The Par 3 17th features an island green with a waterfall in the background. The 16th hole is a 600+ yard Par 5 with elevated tee-box that doglegs right. Hole No. 15 is Shadow Creek’s signature hole. It is a Par 4 in which players hit towards the mountains. A creek runs down the left side of the hole and across the green.
In 2018 Shadow Creek hosted The Match Tiger v Phil, a match play challenge between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. The Match was a head-to-head match play golf challenge played in November 2018 between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. The purse for the unofficial PGA Tour event was $9 million, with the winner taking the entire amount. Mickelson won the match after 22 holes, including 4 playoff holes.
A rematch, The Match Champions for Charity, was played earlier this year in May at the Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Florida. It featured a pro-am four-ball format with each golfer having a National Football League quarterback as his partner: Woods was paired with two-time Super Bowl champion Peyton Manning and Mickelson with 6-time Super Bowl champion and Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady. Woods and Manning held off a late comeback from Mickelson and Brady to win by a single hole.
“As soon as you pass the red phone booth, the fun begins. I’ve spent a lot of time sitting on the 9th tee box just looking out and relaxing. Relaxing, that is, until I tee off”Rocco Mediate
Like with all new courses entering the PGA Tour rota it is hard to find an angle in. This is especially so with Shadow Creek and the mystique that surrounds it.
The fairways are tree-lined and while visually they might look narrow they are in fact reasonably wide. With generous fairways, it looks like the challenge this week will be pronounced around the greens. When unfamiliar greens serve as targets, hitting full shots is key and those in tune with distance and accuracy should reap rewards.
On the face of it, the green complexes are well protected by bunkers, trees and water hazards. Hitting it stiff will be key especially with players on a learning curve in reading new greens. Scoring this week will ultimately be decided by how fast the greens will run on the stimpmeter.
Expect players in the mix to have a high percentage of greens in regulation with top-notch putting and a low scoring average on the stock Par 5s.
With no cut, the mindset is simplified to perform over 72 holes, so a fast start will be important
CJ Cup Betting Tips
Xander Schauffele 14/1 (E/W) – the tournament relocation from Nine Bridges to Shadow Creek renders Event Form and course history pointless this week. First time teeing it up since a solo 5th in the recent US Open at Winged Foot. Prior to that he had an excellent run in the FedEx Cup Playoffs finishing T2 in the Tour Championship. A superb all-round game puts him inside the Top 20 in this week’s Stats Analysis (based on last season’s statistics). Closed out last season 3rd for SG:Tee-To-Green, 10th for GIR and 5th for Scoring Average. Always worth a look every time he tees it up especially (dare I say!) in a limited field, no cut event. Shadow Creek on the face of it looks to be a perfect track to play to his many strengths. The quintessential pro is the best value at top end of market and should be one of the main protagonists in Las Vegas this week.