The 2020 CJ Cup is scheduled to begin on Thursday, with the first tee time coming at 12:45 p.m. ET at Shadow Creek Golf Course in Las Vegas. This event is usually taking place in South Korea, but the coronavirus pandemic forced a change in 2020. Dustin Johnson, the first favorite, withdrew this week due to a positive COVID-19 test. This is one of the smaller fields on the 2020-21 PGA Tour schedule with less than 80 golfers playing this week.
William Hill’s 2020 CJ Cup odds list Jon Rahm as the 8-1 favorite. Other Top 2020 CJ Cup contestants include Justin Thomas (10-1), Rory McIlroy (12-1), and Xander Schauffele (12-1).
A set of winners gathered near the top of this week’s CJ Cup in the Shadow Creek leaderboard as Tyrrell Hatton (-7) leads Xander Schauffele (-6) and Jon Rahm (-5) just behind him after Round 1. They may not be the three biggest names on the field, but they all post wins an amazing clip and are now the three biggest threats to take down this $9.75 million purse.
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Surprisingly (unless you’ve followed suit), Hatton has won the fastest rate so far in 2020. He’s won two of the 11 tournaments he’s played so far in 2020, including last week’s CJ Cup 2020 in the U.K., which made him the No. 10 player in the Official World Golf Rankings.
On Thursday, Hatton shot 7-under 65 at the speed of the field despite not feeling all that well after 20 hours of traveling from England to Las Vegas for this week’s PGA Tour event. After his round, he said his caddie woke up at 2:30 a.m.
Local time this week, but they’ve already gone out and put together the best round of the day in a field that’s among the best of the year. Hatton started 5 under in his first five and played the next 13 under in the tidy 2.
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Two others who are expected to be happy to win more than five strokes on this packed field are Schauffele and Rahm. The latter has been outstanding in his last five events, winning one of his two wins a year and placing in the top 15 in four of the five. He finished second to Hatton from tee to green on Thursday and was brilliant in the field. Here’s how well Rahm hit the ball: somehow he shot 67 and T4, despite putting it worse than the average field.
Schauffele, on the other hand, has been terrific in every category. He’s got 1.4 strokes in every category, which is a nice picture of his overall game. Of the best players in the world, Schauffele, Rahm, Dustin Johnson, and Justin Thomas are perhaps the most well-rounded players. That’s what Schauffele showed off on Thursday at Shadow Creek as he made only one bogey on the way to his 66th.
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If Thomas is the king of the collapse of the PGA Tour events, Schauffele is his prince. Last year he finished the top ten in all three Asian swing events and the year before he won the HSBC Champions in China in the fall. In addition, he has probably been the best player on the planet for the last three months. While that didn’t result in a victory — his only “victory” this year, according to the OWGR, he came to the Tour Championship, where he won the 72-hole race but lost the tournament because he started out with a deficit — his strokes were off the charts.
There’s no real surprise that two of these three are at the top of this board after 18 holes, and there won’t be any surprise if they stay there all weekend. Three world-class players who win a lot for CJ Cup dominance with the Masters only a month away are a perfect way to launch the final drive towards the biggest tournament of the year.
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Three-time Tour champion Russell Henley also had a hot opening round, 6-under 66. Henley finishes T27 last week at Shriners Children’s for Hospitals Open and will be playing alongside Joel Dahmen and Scottie Scheffler at 1:51 p.m. Uh, on Friday.
Other notable groups included Sergio Garcia, Rory McIlroy, and Si Woo Kim at 2:46 p.m. ET, Sungjae I m, Justin Thomas, and Brooks Koepka at 1:29 p.m. ET, man.
One of the big surprises the model is calling for at the CJ Cup 2020: Rory McIlroy, one of the top Vegas favorites at 12-1 according to William Hill, stumbles and doesn’t even enter the top five. McIlroy’s coming out of a good performance in the U.S. Open, securing the 8th place finish at Winged Foot. However, McIlroy has been erratic since the start, finishing out of the top 30 six times in his last 10 starts on the PGA Tour.
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McIlroy’s poor results can be directly attributed to his failure to find a fairway off the tee. The 18-time PGA Tour champion finished 155th last season in driving accuracy (56.34), which doesn’t bode well for his chances of finishing top of the leaderboard this week. He’s not a good pick to win it all, and there’s far better value in the CJ Cup 2020 area.
Another surprise: Matthew Wolff, who’s off at 18-1, has a strong run at the title. The 21-year-old Oklahoma State product has a blistering start to the season. He placed second in the U.S. Open after shooting two rounds of 65 or less at the case.
He also finished T-2 at the Shriners Children’s Hospitals Open. The success was highlighted by an incredible 61 in the third round. He ranks second in the average score (66,836) and overall strokes on the PGA Tour. He showed few faults in his game this fall, making him a perfect pick for the 2020 CJ Cup bets.