GOLF

PGA Betting Guide for THE CJ CUP @ SHADOW CREEK

Picking winners of a golf tournament is hard. Doing it consistently is downright impossible. But finding value is something all bettors must practice in order to give themselves the best chance to make hay when the day finally comes that they ping a champion.

Below, we will cover the best bets for THE CJ CUP @ SHADOW CREEK based on current form, course fit, and -- of course -- the value of their odds over at FanDuel Sportsbook.

A loaded, short field tees it up this week at Shadow Creek Golf Course in Las Vegas, Nevada, playing substitute for the majestic Nine Bridges in South Korea thanks to the travel limitations resulting from the (you guessed it) coronavirus pandemic. While a professional golf tournament -- let alone one being held at one of the most exclusive private clubs in the country -- is hardly emblematic of the seismic shift our lives have undergone these past few months, the fact that the PGA Tour members of Korean descent are robbed of their home game is gutting.

We'll press on, wondering once again when we might feel some sense of normalcy but grateful for the foresight and leadership at the PGA Tour for figuring out their schedule and putting out a terrific product week in and week out. The protocols might lead to the forced withdrawal of Dustin Johnson and Tony Finau, but they are in place to keep the rest of the players safe and healthy so we can continue to watch, wager, and wait.

With the top of the market going off at single digits after Johnson pulled out, we try to navigate a short field by targeting golfers either trending in the right direction or long overdue for a win based on their talent and pedigree. With no cut and an unfamiliar course, embrace the variance this week.

For more info on Shadow Creek, along with this week's key stats and comparable courses, check out the course primer.

At the Top

Xander Schauffele (+1200) - While the venue has changed, the field is intact (excepting the aforementioned withdrawals) and basically the same as who would have played at Nine Bridges. With no cut and a loaded top of the market, our eye instantly goes to Schauffele, a favorite in this space, and someone ripe for a victory. That three of his four PGA wins have come in strong, short fields at the Tournament of Champions, the WGC-HSBC Champions, and the TOUR Championship, he is right in his comfort zone this week. He was the low man over 72 holes in the TOUR Championship but not declared the winner by virtue of the starting strokes format, but we can expect an over-correction and will be backing Schauffele plenty this season. The 12/1 is hard to swallow, but if we are living at the top of the market he's the man with the best number.

Patrick Cantlay (+2300) - The 54-hole leader last week at the Shriners before fading to a T8 finish, Cantlay will have to build on his TPC Summerlin confidence at another Vegas track this week. After six events with just one finish inside the top 30, we can expect another run of strong finishes from one of the best tee to green players in the world. His best putting surface by far is bentgrass, and he rolled it well enough last week to gain 4.1 strokes putting on similar grass in the same climate. He'd been a top-20 machine for over a year before the aforementioned stretch, with just two finishes worse than 21st from April 2019 through July 2020. In a short field with his form on the uptick, he's worth backing on a Top 20 Finish (-120).

Value Spots

Brooks Koepka (+3000) - Koepka returns to action at either a great number or a sucker bet depending on the health of the knee he injured when he slipped at last year's CJ CUP. When he opted to skip the FedEx Cup Playoffs to recover, he tweeted that he hoped to be back at 100%. Given that he'd contended at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational and was in the hunt through three rounds at the PGA Championship, we can take Koepka at his word that he would wait until he was healthy to return to action. He went off at a similar number at TPC Southwind and nearly rewarded betters who grabbed the value, and at this number, he is close to an auto-bet.

Louis Oosthuizen (+4600) - Oosthuizen plays his best in the strongest fields, and he's exhibited remarkable (for him) consistency with recent finishes of T19, 3rd, T25, T13, T33, and T6. Two of those events were short fields, strong fields at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, and the BMW Championship, and two others were majors. He's never won a title on U.S. soil, an absurd factoid for a golfer with 12 career worldwide wins and a top-10 finishes in a quarter of his professional events (112 out of 443 events). In form and in his element, Louis is ripe to buck the trend this week.

Long Shots

Kevin Kisner (+7500) - Before missing the cut at the U.S. Open, Kisner had booked six straight top 25s and had been making everything in sight, gaining an average of almost 5.0 strokes putting per event. At a resort course designed for wealthy gamblers and celebrities, we can expect the greens to be a bit easier than a traditional Tour event and play to the advantage of the best putters on Tour. We know Kisner's short game is his strength, but he had a couple, of really solid weeks with this irons back in August. Two of those three events resulted in top-5 finishes, and if he dials in this week there's no reason he can't get a similar result. We'll eye the decent odds for a Top 10 Finish (+900) for Kisner this week.

Jordan Spieth (+8000) - With five straight finishes worse than 70th, Spieth has shown of late what happens to his current game when the putting prowess escapes him. Forward to Vegas, at a course it is said Spieth frequents, and we can catch him at a low point (hopefully!) in a short field. The ballstriking will have to change course in a big way for him to ever get close to the form he showed early in his career, but for now, he's constantly playing birdie-bogey golf that requires only a little luck one way or the other to turn disastrous or magical.