The PGA TOUR sticks around in Las Vegas for another week as a limited field will turn their attention toward The Summit Club.
THE CJ CUP made its debut on the PGA TOUR schedule back in 2017 when Justin Thomas won while playing at Nine Bridges on Jeju Island. The event was moved from Korea to Las Vegas (Shadow Creek) last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and it will be played in Las Vegas again this year.
Only 78 golfers are qualified for this event with roughly 90 percent of the field coming from the PGA TOUR while the remainder of the field gets assigned to standout performers from the KPGA or Asian Tour.
Due to the small size of the field, there is no cutline to sweat, as all of the golfers will be guaranteed four rounds of action.
The Summit Club is hosting this week's event.
The course is a Tom Fazio design that was built recently, in 2017. Fazio has his fingerprint on a lot of PGA TOUR events, especially in recent years. He's played a role in design on notable courses like Shadow Creek, Caves Valley, Quail Hollow, Congaree, and Conway Farms.
For tournament play, this will set up as a par 72 that stretches out to 7,431 yards.
Looking at the hole-by-hole breakdown, three of the par 5s are beefy at 580 yards or longer. The par 3s are a good mix with one short (138 yards), one long (235 yards) and two in between. As for the par 4s, three of them stretch out past 480 yards while three of them are shorter than 380 yards. Again, a pretty good balance.
Water comes into play on seven holes and there are 62 bunkers littered across the grounds.
Diving into the turf, golfers will see bermuda that was overseeded with ryegrass just five weeks ago. It's possible the ryegrass won't be up to PGA TOUR standards just yet but that is better than playing on dying bermuda. Then when they reach the greens, it will be average sized greens (6,580 average square feet) that feature bentgrass turf.
It's tough to know what to expect in terms of scoring conditions but we do know that the PGA TOUR likes to be cautious when it comes to a new course hosting an event. That usually leads to lots of birdies. If I had to guess, I would peg the winning score at 18-under or easier.
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It's more guesswork than usual this week since we haven't seen this course in tournament play. We can look at the location and course characteristics to see what other courses might be similar:
PGA West Rota
Silverado Resort and Spa
The director of agronomy at The Summit Club use to be the superintendent at PGA WEST. Add in overseeded conditions out West and it becomes an easy comp to look at. TPC Summerlin is easy to add to the list, given the location and easy expected scoring conditions.
Thursday: Sunny with a high of 71 degrees. Winds at 5 to 10 MPH.
Friday: Sunny with a high of 71 degrees. Winds at 5 to 10 MPH
The forecast is sunny but not scorching hot with calm winds and no precipitation on the docket. This should lead to prime scoring conditions.
Golfers to Watch
The Las Vegas resident was one of the pre-tournament favorites last week but he withdrew before the event started, citing a rib injury. The 38-year-old has a long history of pre- and mid-tournament WDs which makes him a very high-risk, high-reward option for weekly gamers. It's possible he was just being cautious last week with the pre-tourney WD, to focus on this week. I can imagine this event probably means more than the week-to-week stop, given it's a Korean-sponsored event that is taking place in his home city of Vegas.
Another Las Vegas resident, Morikawa is kicking off the new season with a home game. This will be his first tournament action since The Ryder Cup. Will he need some reps to shake off the rust or will the home cooking fuel him to a sixth PGA TOUR title?
It was a wild week for the young Norwegian at TPC Summerlin. He gained a whopping 5.4 strokes off-the-tee and another 5.3 strokes on approach. From there he had his career-worst week around-the-green (-8.9 SG:ARG). He's now lost 1.6 or more strokes around-the-green in five of his last six starts. When he first came out on TOUR he admitted to this being an obvious weakness of his, but his coach helped him work that out. It looks like he's going to need some more coaching to get things back in working order. It's easy to still gravitate toward Hovland in weekly games, given that out-of-this-world upside when it comes to driving and iron play.
Let's get back to the Vegas theme, Wise is another that moved out to Las Vegas after college. That comfort in the area may have helped guide him last week when he posted a top 10 at the Shriners. However, he's been playing steady golf for a few months now, so we can't just chalk that top 10 up to local comfort. Wise has four straight top 30s, dating back to last year's postseason.
The California kid had a strong showing at the Ryder Cup and won the Olympic Games this summer. He's surely beaming with confidence as he kicks off another season. While he won the Olympics this year and won the OWGR-version of the 2020 TOUR Championship, he doesn't have an actual win on the PGA TOUR since the 2019 Sentry Tournament of Champions. Of course, it wouldn't shock many to see him have a Cantlayesque season and rattle off a multi-win campaign.
Ranking the Field
1. Xander Schauffele
2. Justin Thomas
3. Dustin Johnson
4. Jordan Spieth
5. Collin Morikawa
6. Tony Finau
7. Louis Oosthuizen
8. Viktor Hovland
9. Rory McIlroy
10. Cameron Smith
11. Sam Burns
12. Paul Casey
13. Abraham Ancer
14. Scottie Scheffler
15. Tyrrell Hatton
16. Brooks Koepka
17. Sungjae Im
18. Shane Lowry
19. Webb Simpson
20. Hideki Matsuyama