This will be one of the most fun weeks of the season for your authors. Powers is playing the CJ Cup pro-am on Wednesday—paired with a couple of great pros, Alex Noren and Patton Kizzire. Be careful, guys, that this writer doesn’t mush your golf games … he’s been known to mush nearly everything he bets on! And Hennessey is familiar with The Summit Club, having played it in 2018 after the course was open less than a year. (Yes, he took an Uber after his round at Shadow Creek to The Summit Club for an epic afternoon.)
Does that mean we have a leg up in predicting winners this week? Who knows, but we’ll give it our best shot. Thankfully, we have a lot of smart people below to help us. Our Golf Digest betting panel consists of an anonymous caddie; Pat Mayo of Mayo Media Network; Brandon Gdula of numberFire/FanDuel; Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com and Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports. Gehman started the season nicely with a Sam Burns prediction at the Sanderson—and now we’re hungry to make it two correct picks in a four-week span this week at the CJ Cup. Hopefully a little inside info goes a long way.
Someone with a ton of inside info this week is Collin Morikawa, who’s a member at The Summit Club and is there nearly every day when he’s home in Vegas (the club even has top-notch fitness facilities that he can utilize). Tommy Armour III, an ambassador for The Summit Club, joined us on the “Be Right” podcast this week (scroll down to listen), where he explained how familiar Morikawa is with this new PGA Tour venue, and why it will be valuable.
That being said, is there enough value on Morikawa to bet him at 16-1, when he’s cashed tickets for bettors at numbers closer to 30, 35-1 in his five PGA Tour victories? One thing’s for sure: You’ve made some nice cash betting on the Open champion in his young career. Will this week be Win No. 6? Our experts explain why (and why not) … read on for our complete analysis of this week at the 2021 CJ Cup.
CJ Cup 2021 picks: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions
Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Dustin Johnson (12-1, BetMGM) — The books are scared of DJ after the Ryder Cup, and rightfully so. He looked like he was back to playing like the best player in this field. He’s one of the few guys who has played here a handful of times. Plus his driver will be a huge asset around here, and if he keeps up a hot putter like we’ve seen this fall, he’s rightfully the favorite.
Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Collin Morikawa (16-1, DraftKings) — I don’t really care that he’s a member at the course—that narrative is always overblown. What I do care about: This is a second-shot course on Bentgrass greens: The Morikawa special. He’s the best iron player on the planet, now we pray it’s one of the five events in the year he gains strokes putting. He’s not necessarily a value at his price, but it’s crazy he isn’t equal to DJ or JT in the betting market.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Cameron Smith (34-1, FanDuel) — Smith is a co-leader in birdie rate over the past 50 rounds, via FantasyNational, and The Summit Club’s greens rate out substantially larger than the average PGA Tour stop. That de-emphasizes iron play a bit, and that could lead to Smith going low this week.
Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Xander Schauffele (14-1, Caesars Sportsbook) — Many will opt for Collin Morikawa, who plays at Summit Club more than anyone else in the field. However, I’m going with another Las Vegas resident—one who has been a staple near the top of leader boards for basically his entire career. With four guaranteed rounds this week, I’m ready to back the “No Cut Prince.” Schauffele has gained the second-most strokes per round in no-cut events—out of golfers with at least 120 rounds—dating back to 2010 (only Justin Thomas has gained more).
Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Collin Morikawa (16-1, DraftKings) — Yes, I’m all-in on the home course narrative. This is a brand-new venue only a few pros have played before this week, so Morikawa’s advantage is massive. Plus, I think iron play will be key here—and this is probably the best iron player in golf. The number doesn’t have a ton of value, but it’s fair. It’s a smash spot on Morikawa.
Christopher Powers, Golf Digest assistant editor: Tony Finau (25-1, DraftKings) — After walking nearly all 18 holes on Tuesday, my key takeaway is that The Summit Club is a rather large ballpark. Even though the ball will fly here, keeping the shorter players in the mix, I think the top of the leader board will be littered with the big hitters come Sunday. I’m enticed by Brooks Koepka, but Finau feels like a safer play. The recent form is there, he has a strong record in the desert and he’s a solid putter on bent. He’s also excellent in the wind, which is supposed to die down later in the week, though that’s hardly a guarantee. He’s going to get back to his top-5-every-week ways soon, making him worth the outright shot at 25-1.
Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Justin Thomas (14-1, BetMGM) — This is Thomas’ time. He ranks fifth in SG/total on similar courses per FanShare’s data—and he’s fifth in SG/tee to green over the past two months, on a venue that should demand stellar tee-to-green play. Plus, he ranks first in the field for SG/total over the past two years. He’s due for another win.
Past results: Golf Digest’s betting panel had another strong season in 2020-’21, correctly predicting 14 winners in the last 28 events of the year. Of course, the gambling gods don’t care about last season. As Bill Belichick says, “We’re on to 2021-’22.” We got the new season off right with Rick Gehman hitting Sam Burns (16-1) at the Sanderson Farms Championship.
CJ Cup 2021 picks: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win
Caddie: Hideki Matsuyama (40-1, Bet365) — Absolutely nobody would be surprised to see Hideki win on a course that demands great iron play. These odds seem too high on the Masters champ in a field like this.
Mayo: Harris English (35-1, DraftKings) — Not a true dark horse, but in no-cut fields you really don’t want to go too low on the betting board. English missed the cut a week ago. How exactly? Well, it was the worst putting event per round of his career. If he rebounds with the flat stick, English will just need to play to his regular tee-to-green baseline to contend.
Gdula: Joaquin Niemann (60-1, FanDuel) — I don’t like to chase longshots in small, strong fields, but Niemann’s number is somewhere in the middle. He should be able to gain distance and birdies on the field, and those should prove to be vital for success this week.
Gehman: Aaron Wise (70-1, FanDuel) — Wise appears to be on the verge of a major breakthrough. Already one of the best tee-to-green players on tour—ranking 25th last season—Wise has figured out the putter. He’s gained a total of 5.42 strokes with the putter over his last five measured events, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. That’s a huge leap for Wise who finished 174th in the category last year. If he can marry the newfound putting success with his normal ball-striking, he will be dangerous.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Alex Noren (80-1, BetMGM) — You will need to make birdies in bunches here—and that’s Noren’s game. The Swede has quietly been playing great over the past few months, and he has the game to contend in a field of this strength.
Powers, Golf Digest: Justin Rose (70-1, FanDuel) — Last time we saw Rose, he finished 10th at the Wyndham, where he finally put up some solid tee-to-green and approach numbers, something we haven’t seen from him in quite some time. He’s had nothing but time off to get sharper since, and he more often than not shows up in these stronger-field events.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Justin Rose (70-1, FanDuel) — Rose comes into this event off back-to-back top 10s—and following his Ryder Cup snub—he has a big point to prove. The Englishman has gained a half shot per round on this field putting on bentgrass over the past two years—and ranks third for SG/total on similar courses.
CJ Cup 2021 picks: Players to Fade This Week (who will disappoint)
Caddie: Rory McIlroy (16-1, DraftKings) — Vegas, at a venue with no fans, doesn’t feel like a Rory week.
Mayo: Rory McIlroy (16-1, DraftKings) — Yes, it’s a Fazio design, but I’ll be off Rory at least until he starts finishing better in tournaments than Rory Sabbatini.
Gdula: Dustin Johnson (12-1, FanDuel) — Dustin’s trending up overall but is really relying on his putter, which isn’t what you want to see, generally. I’ll be nervous fading him as the favorite, but the process looks better for the other options at the top.
Gehman: Kevin Na (50-1, BetMGM) — It’s certainly dangerous to fade Na in Las Vegas, but there are some stats that raise red flags. Na has played 108 rounds in no-cut events since 2010. That’s the 11th-most rounds of anyone on tour in that timeframe. He, along with Matt Kuchar, are the only two golfers with that many rounds who have lost strokes per round. That’s probably a sign of them being “outclassed” in most no-cut fields, which usually draw their stronger peers.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Rory McIlroy (16-1, DraftKings) — Once Rory drifts to the 20-, 22-1 range, that’s where I dabble … but right now it’s tough to imagine him beating this field over four rounds.
Powers, Golf Digest: Viktor Hovland (28-1, DraftKings) — If he drives it well and hits his irons well, which he usually does, there’s no reason he can’t contend (spoiler alert). But there seems to be some very bad spots to miss around the greens here, and if Hovland finds those spots he could be in big trouble. The young Norwegian lost a staggering 8.9 strokes around the green last week, marking the fifth time in the last six events he’s lost at least 1.5 or more in that area.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Collin Morikawa (16-1, DraftKings) — Morikawa ranks out really poorly this week, per the stats we’re looking at over at FanShare. He ranks dead last for SG/total over the past two months and just 55th of the 71 players for SG/putting on bentgrass over the past two months.
CJ Cup 2021 picks: Matchups
Caddie: Dustin Johnson (-130) over Rory McIlroy (FanDuel) — If you watched any of the Ryder Cup, you know why you should feel confidence laying only -130 here.
Mayo: Collin Morikawa (-110) over Sam Burns (DraftKings) — Despite another lofty finish, Burns actually dropped strokes with his irons in three of four rounds at the Shriners. And I’m just not ready to live in a world where Morikawa and Burns are the same price.
Gdula: Justin Thomas (-118) over Collin Morikawa (FanDuel) — There’s some juice on this one, but it’s not too bad considering Thomas holds a substantial edge over Morikawa over the past three months and past year in adjusted strokes gained average, via datagolf.
Gehman: Jason Kokrak (-120) over Charley Hoffman (DraftKings) — Hoffman faltered on the weekend at TPC Summerlin, losing 3.76 strokes from tee-to-green and falling to a T-44. Kokrak missed the cut but gained 1.32 strokes on approach in those two rounds. Kokrak has turned into an excellent putter, especially on bentgrass greens, so I expect a quick bounce-back.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Collin Morikawa (-110) over Rory McIlroy (DraftKings) — It will take a lot of restraint for me not to break out the suitcase of cash for this bet. Disclaimer: Remember to always bet responsibly, friends.
Powers, Golf Digest: Collin Morikawa (-110) over Sam Burns (DraftKings) — Going against Burns is a dicey proposition these days, but I’ll roll with a well-rested Morikawa playing on his home course over the guy playing for a third straight week, which catches up with everyone eventually.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Justin Thomas (-110) over Collin Morikawa (Bet365) — This is what you hope for in a matchup: My pick to win against the player I’m fading. Amazingly, Bet365 has this matchup even despite Thomas being 10-1 at most books and Morikawa being 16/1.
Matchup Results from the Shriners: Gdula: 1 for 1 (Adam Scott (-108) over Erik van Rooyen); Mayo: 1 for 1 (Adam Scott (-120) over Charley Hoffman); Alldrick: push; Caddie, Gehman, Hennessey, Powers: 0 for 1.
Matchup Results from this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Mayo: 3-0-0 (up 2.66 units); Caddie: 2-1-0 (up 0.91 units); Powers: 1-2-0 (down 1 unit); Gdula: 1-2-0 (down 1.07 units); Gehman: 0-3-0 (down 3 units); Hennessey: 0-3-0 (down 3 units); Alldrick: 0-2-1 (down 2 units)
Caddie: Webb Simpson (+550, FanDuel) — These odds just seem too high for a top-10 machine on a heavy iron and bentgrass course.
Mayo: Viktor Hovland (+240, DraftKings) — Hovland lost 8.9 strokes around the green last week. I’ve never seen a number that high. How bad is that? Well, we can recall some pretty horrendous chipping efforts from Hovland in the past, yet he’d never been worse than -3.9 in any other event in his career. It’s an outlier. What’s not an outlier? He led all players in ball-striking at Shriners.
Gdula: Paul Casey (+350, FanDuel) — Casey missed the cut last week but can score well and overperforms these odds, according to my win simulation model. He’s too good tee-to-green to fade after a cut from bad putting.
Gehman: Cam Davis (+900, DraftKings) — There are about a dozen courses on tour that set up well for Davis’ game. We are looking for courses that are not penal off the tee, benefit long hitters and generally require you to make a lot of birdies. That sounds like the blueprint for success at The Summit Club. Davis will enter with plenty of momentum, shooting a 66 on Sunday at TPC Summerlin, his best round of the week.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Scottie Scheffler (+290, FanDuel) — This is the kind of course where Scottie can really succeed—a ton of width off the tee so he can miss a little left and right. And then go to town making birdies. He’s been a top-10 machine in these fields.
Powers, Golf Digest: Talor Gooch (+500, DraftKings) — My longshot pick to win a week ago, Gooch wound up finishing 11th at the Shriners’ birdie-fest. In the start before that, he finished fourth at Fortinet, gaining 8.8 strokes tee to green in both starts. Ride the hot hand.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Charley Hoffman (+700, FanDuel) — Hoffman ranks second in the field for Opportunities Gained over the past two months and 22nd in SG/total on similar courses. If he does indeed get on with this course as well as predicted and converts some of the massive opportunities he is giving himself then it shouldn’t be hard to grab a top 10.
Top-10 results from the Shriners: Everybody: 0 for 1
Top-10 results from this season: Mayo: 1 for 3 (up 12 units); Powers: 1 for 3 (up 10 units); Caddie: 0 for 3 (down 3 units); Gdula: 0 for 3 (down 3 units); Gehman: 0 for 3 (down 3 units); Hennessey: 0 for 3 (down 3 units); Alldrick: 0 for 3 (down 3 units)
CJ Cup 2021 picks: One and Done
Gehman: Louis Oosthuizen — Oosthuizen quietly finished T-14 last week and finished third in SG/tee to green. He actually lost 1.88 strokes putting, which is uncharacteristic for the No. 1 putter on tour last season. Assuming Oosthuizen bounces back with the flat stick, he should be able to make plenty of noise this week at The Summit Club.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Kevin Na; Sanderson Farms Championship: Mito Pereira. Shriners: Abraham Ancer.
Hennessey: Collin Morikawa — I might as well go down with the Morikawa ship guns-a-blazin if we’re going down.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Emiliano Grillo; Sanderson Farms Championship: Carlos Ortiz. Shriners: Abraham Ancer.
Powers: Talor Gooch — Is he going to beat this elite field? Probably not, but he’s playing extremely well right now and I’d rather save all the big boys for the bigger events later in the year. Gooch could be the ultimate right place, right time pick, which is ideal for a one and done.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Brendan Steele. Sanderson Farms Championship: Mito Pereira. Shriners: Aaron Wise.
Courtesy of Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com:
1.32 — The strokes gained per round by Justin Thomas in no-cut events in his career. That’s the most of any golfer since 2010 with at least 120 rounds played.
50 — The number of rounds played by Kevin Na on large, bentgrass greens since 2010. That’s the most of anyone on tour, and he also has the best strokes gained putting average of anyone with at least 34 rounds.
7 — The number of holes with water in play at Summit Club.
2017 — The year Summit Club opened, designed by Tom Fazio.
Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, owner of the Mayo Media Network and host of The Pat Mayo Experience. (Subscribe for video or audio. Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and was finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 21 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo is on the board of governors at www.fantasynational.com.
Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 fantasy sports-writers association Golf Writer of the Year *(congrats, Brandon!)*. Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast.
Rick Gehman is the founder of RickRunGood.com and the RickRunGood YouTube Channel, is one of the industry’s leading experts on golf DFS and gambling. Gehman is co-host of the First Cut Podcast and appears regularly on the Pat Mayo Experience golf podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @RickRunGood.
Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports started out writing an article highlighting the best bargain plays for fantasy golf under his twitter handle @DKGolfBargains. His success at this prompted FanShare Sports to enlist him as a guest writer, which evolved into him writing the weekly Under The Radar article. As a U.K.-based expert, Alldrick’s insight into European Tour regulars and low priced, low owned plays has provided an invaluable edge for readers when it comes to DFS GPPs.