The streak continues, I’m painfully hungover yet again to cover another Tournament Preview on the PGA Tour, this time, the 2022 CJ Cup at the Summit Club in Las Vegas, Nevada. I’m shacking up in Elmira, New York this weekend visiting my buddy who is the head Superintendent at Elmira CC, and as such, for better or worse, have not stopped drinking Busch Lights for the past 72 hours. At this point I consider it my civic duty to be drunk and/or hungover to cover the Vegas Swing, and think I’m in a good position to channel the headspace of those in this limited 78-man field.
The CJ Cup was added to the PGA Tour schedule in 2017 and was played at Nine Bridges on Jeju Island in South Korea through 2019. Due to COVID travel restrictions, the CJ Cup pivoted to Shadow Creek in 2020, where Jason Kokrak picked up his first career PGA Tour win on his “home” MGM-sponsored course. While they made efforts to bring the CJ Cup back to South Korea again this year, they were ultimately unable to work out those logistics, and turned to The Summit Club as a fairly last minute home to host this event instead. This will be The Summit Club’s first time hosting a PGA Tour event, however it will not be the first time several of the players in this field will have seen the course. Collin Morikawa and Maverick McNealy are both members at The Summit Club and in the field this week. Morikawa’s low round here is a -10 62, and McNealy’s is one better at 61. The Summit Club is a brand new course, opening in 2017, but is quickly gaining popularity as a stop for many PGA Tour pros who frequent Las Vegas.
There’s a lot we can speculate this week by looking at the scorecard and listening to early quotes about the course and its layout, but at the end of the day, it will be nothing more than speculation as we haven’t seen a professional event contested here before. With that said, there’s enough reason to conclude that SG: APP, Birdies or Better Gained, Tom Fazio Course History, SG: P on Bent grass, and scoring in the funneled hole distances should help determine who will come out on top this week. Here’s a look at everything you can expect from the 2022 CJ Cup at The Summit Club!
The Summit Club Course Specs
- Yards: 7,431
- Par: 72 (4x 3’s / 10x 4’s / 4x 5’s)
- Grass: Bent Greens, Bermuda Rough & Fairways
- Architect: Tom Fazio
- Comp Courses: Shadow Creek, Kasumigaseki CC, TPC Summerlin, Congaree, Quail Hollow, Augusta, PGA West Stadium Course, TPC Scottsdale
- Past Winners: Jason Kokrak (21), Justin Thomas (20, 18), Brooks Koepka (19)
The Summit Club is a course with thin desert air and notable elevation changes, which means the length on the scorecard can be misleading. While listed at 7,431 yards, the true distance is likely closer to 7,200 when factoring in those elements, so I would think twice before firing off the “7,400+ Yard Course” filter on Fantasy National. For example despite being listed at 400 yards on the scorecard, Hole #1 is a driveable Par 4 which plays downhill. In fact, those close to the course have claimed they would not be surprised if we saw a player get off to a 7-under start through the first 7 holes, with two driveable Par 4s, two reachable Par 5s, two short Par 3s, and another straightforward 426 yard Par 4. It’s no wonder Collin Morikawa chose a track with multiple driveable Par 4s as his home course after seeing how he took care of business at TPC Harding Park. He’ll be a popular play this week, and will likely be a fixture on my card after seeing him look healthy again at Whistling Straits.
With no course history to go off of, it’s relevant to note that in terms of event history, last year’s 2021 CJ Cup is likely the best comp we can draw from to project success at The Summit Club. Jason Kokrak won last year’s event in a “home” game at the exclusive Shadow Creek Golf Course, which he cited having a distinct advantage over the field on by playing many rounds there previously through his MGM sponsorship privileges. While it’s easy and convenient to say that a second year of the CJ Cup in Las Vegas will play similarly, there’s really no better course I could find as a comp to The Summit Club than Shadow Creek. Both are Par 72, brand new Tom Fazio-designed, treelined desert, 7,400-7,500 yard, Bent Grass, moderate-to-easy scoring conditions, which should yield a winning score in the high teens to low twenties. If you played well at Shadow Creek and enter again in similar form this time around, I think we should expect those players to set up well here once again. Jason Kokrak, Xander Schauffele, Talor Gooch, Russell Henley, Tyrrell Hatton, Joaquin Niemann, Harris English, Cameron Smith, Viktor Hovland, Ian Poulter, Justin Thomas, and Collin Morikawa all finished T12 or better at the 2021 CJ Cup and will be back again in this week’s field.
In terms of comp course history, I’ll be looking closely at Tom Fazio course history over the last two seasons, which includes Kasumigaseki, Congaree, Quail Hollow, Augusta, and Shadow Creek. I also like TPC Scottsdale, TPC Summerlin, and The Stadium Course for the desert climate tie-ins and similar expected scoring averages. As an added bonus, the Director of Agronomy at The Summit Club worked previously at The Stadium Course, so I expect to see at least a hint of overlap in style/layout. The Top 10 players in terms of SG: TOT at these comp courses includes: Xander Schauffele, Abraham Ancer, Webb Simpson, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Tony Finau, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Cameron Smith, and Hideki Matsuyama.
- SG: APP
- Fairways Gained
- Birdie or Better Gained
- P4: 350-400 / P5: 550-600
- SG: P (Bent)
- Course + Comp Course History
Taking the insiders closest to The Summit Club at their word, this sounds like a course where pros can have a fairly easy time piling on birdies, which coupled with the lack of notable course length, would seem to default as another second shot, Bent Grass putting contest. The Top 10 players SG: APP entering this week L24 are Paul Casey, Russell Henley, Xander Schauffele, Shane Lowry, Viktor Hovland, Keegan Bradley, Talor Gooch, Jhonattan Vegas, Abraham Ancer, and Justin Thomas. Likewise, the Top 10 Putters on Bent Grass are Alex Noren, Jason Kokrak, Ian Poulter, Adam Scott, Abraham Ancer, Cameron Tringale, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Cam Davis, and Xander Schauffele. There are just 5 players who rank Top 20 in both SG: APP and SG: P – Bent entering this week: Abraham Ancer, Cameron Tringale, Xander Schauffele, Cameron Smith, and Harold Varner III.
It’s difficult to forecast an exact winning score, however we know by looking at the scorecard and hearing about course records in the 61-62 range, that there are plenty of birdie opportunities on the short Par 4s and all four Par 5s. The Top 10 players in Birdie or Better Gained L24 are Jason Kokrak, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Sam Burns, Patrick Reed, Lucas Glover, Justin Rose, Alex Noren, Webb Simpson, and Patton Kizzire.
Of all the hole ranges this week, I think P4: 350-400 will be most crucial, as there are 3 holes at The Summit Club that will play to this distance, and should give a distinct advantage to players who are able to go for these greens off the tee and create birdie or better opportunities. The Top 10 players in P4: 350-400 Scoring are Max Homa, Jhonattan Vegas, Xander Schauffele, Cameron Tringale, Webb Simpson, Patton Kizzire, Sergio Garcia, Sam Burns, Alex Noren, and Cameron Smith.
The perfect player this week, in my opinion, should rate out above average in SG: APP, SG: P – Bent, BoB Gained, P4: 350-400, and Comp Course History. There are just 7 players who fit that criteria: Xander Schauffele, Webb Simpson, Sam Burns, Cameron Smith, Jason Kokrak, Rory McIlroy, and Kevin Na.
Spotlight: Xander Schauffele
It’s Tom Fazio, there’s no cut, and it’s an internationally sanctioned event (albeit transplanted to Las Vegas). That checks every one of Xander Schauffele’s boxes as we head into the 2022 CJ Cup, and even with the limited 78-man field, I still suspect we’ll get a bet-able number on Xander who often falls in the shadow of the other elite talents like Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, and Justin Thomas in this week’s field.
Xander has battled some inconsistency over the last 3 months with shaky OTT & ARG form dating back to the WGC St Jude, which we can only hope is factored into a discount of his DFS price and betting odds. In reality, he will be kickstarting his 2022 season after a rock solid 2021 campaign which included 14 T20s in 20 starts, and an Olympic Gold Medal. More recently, Xander’s irons have been locked in, ranking 3rd in this field SG: APP L24, and having gained strokes on Approach in 9 of his last 10 starts.
Going back to all the Xander narratives, it’s no secret that, for whatever reason, he’s been absolutely dominant in No Cut events over the course of his career. Maybe he enjoys the comfort of knowing he has 4 days ahead of him, or maybe it’s just purely coincidental that his wins keep coming in these events, but either way, it has to be considered when handicapping this week. Xander has 14 career finishes of 1st or 2nd; 9 of them have come in no cut events and 5 of them have come in internationally sanctioned events. With finishes of 1st at The Olympics at Kasumigaseki CC, T2 at The CJ Cup at Shadow Creek, and T2 at The Masters at Augusta, you’d be hard pressed to find another player on Tour who had a better 2021 season on Tom Fazio courses than Xander Schauffele, so why stop now as we kick off the 2022 year?
As far as course fit goes at The Summit Club, Xander should be able to lean on his hot irons (3rd SG: APP) and strong putting on Bent Grass (10th SG: P) in order to create scoring opportunities. He also ranks 3rd in the field in P4: 350-400, which should give him an advantage on the 3 driveable Par 4s to pick up Birdie or Better opportunities. Xander’s strong all around game makes him a solid fit for virtually any course you throw him on, but the success on similar Fazio comp courses is a nice added bump going into this mystery of a week.
What To Look Out For at the 2022 CJ Cup
The 2022 CJ Cup is the first notable event of the 2022 PGA Tour schedule, featuring elite talents like Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, and Xander Schauffele for the first time. It’s a short 78-man field, and it’s not particularly deep, so I’ll be looking to keep a tight outright card of 2-3 players max, concentrated at the top of the board. My guess before odds open, is that that card begins with Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele in the 16-18/1 range.
With all the course fit profiles in mind this week, I’m leaning early towards the below player pool, broken out by projected pricing/odds tier.
For my model this week, I’m putting a premium on SG: T2G, SG: APP, and Birdie or Better Gained followed by a more balanced mix of Fairways Gained, P4 350-400, P5: 550-600, SG: P – Bent, and Comp Course History. After a quick break, we are back to that part of the season where Sam Burns just breaks all the models, and this time around, there’s actually some hope that he can pay it off with an outright win. After Burns, my model’s Top 10 is rounded out by Rory McIlroy, Cameron Smith, Xander Schauffele, Shane Lowry, Abraham Ancer, Viktor Hovland, Jhonattan Vegas, Louis Oosthuizen, and Webb Simpson.