This article is part of our DraftKings PGA series.
THE CJ CUP @ SUMMIT
Winner's Share: $1.755M
FedEx Cup Points: 500 to the Winner
Location: Las Vegas
Course: The Summit Club
2020 champion: Jason Kokrak (Shadow Creek)
This will be the second half of what should be the final Las Vegas Swing. For the second straight year, South Korea's CJ Cup has been relocated because of the pandemic. Last year it took place at Shadow Creek but now it will be played at the Tom Fazio-designed Summit Club. They are considered to be perhaps the two best courses in Vegas. Very little is known about the Summit Club, built very recently in 2017, but we will delve into it shortly. First, though, let's look at this loaded field, one of the most stacked in the history of the fall season (notwithstanding last year's autumn majors).
The 78-man no-cut event features seven of the top-10 golfers in the world rankings and a whopping 20 of the top-25. Only No. 1 Jon Rahm, No. 4 Patrick Cantlay, No. 7 Bryson DeChambeau, No. 16 Daniel Berger and No. 20 Billy Horschel aren't playing. There are 17 recent Ryder Cuppers in the field. So we are bound to see some very good golfers with favorable DraftKings prices. At the opposite end of the spectrum will be a bunch of Korean-based golfers, most of whom will be challenged to keep up with their PGA and European Tour counterparts. There are a few familiar names, however, such as Byeong Hun An, K.H. Lee and Sung Kang.
Specifically, the field takes the top-60 from last season's FedEx Cup standings, 10 sponsor invites and eight Koreans. The invites are: Jason Day, Tommy Fleetwood, Rickie Fowler, Tyrrell Hatton, rising 20-year-old Rasmus Hojgaard, Korean Minkyu Kim, Ian Poulter, Adam Scott, Justin Rose and Gary Woodland, who just fell out of the top-100 OWGR for the first time in more than eight years. Getting in this field is as hard as getting a ticket to Hamilton Broadway – just ask Matt Fitzpatrick, who at No. 28 in the world is on the outside looking in as the first alternate.
One more important note about the field: Collin Morikawa and Maverick McNealy are Summit Club members. McNealy is said to have a shot a 61 there and Morikawa a 62, which provides an indication of how big of a birdie-fest we could be in for this week.
Okay, now the course. It is immediately evident that the Summit Club will look fantastic on TV, with Red Rock Canyon in view on many holes and the Vegas Strip in the backdrop. You might read in some place that Summit is similar to Shadow Creek. That doesn't appear to be the case, with Shadow Creek giving off a Carolinas vibe and Summit a traditional desert track. It will play much shorter than the scorecard distance because of the high elevation in Vegas. A 7,400-yard, par-72 track is short for today's golfers even at sea level, and this will be more like 7,000-7,100.
From aerial shots, Summit features wide-open fairways with many uneven lies. Trouble lurks closer to the hole, where most of the course's 62 cavernous bunkers are situated. There are undulations on and around the bentgrass greens that average a moderate 6,580 square feet. Water comes into play on seven holes, mostly on the back.
But no matter how we describe it, there's really no hiding the fact that this should be one big, fat birdie-fest, and a track meet from the get-go. In the first seven holes, there are two drivable par-4s, two reachable par-5s and a 138-yard par-3. The back-nine is longer but not especially harder with another drivable par-4 and two more reachable par-5s, including the signature 580-yard 18th. Really, the only thing that could depress scoring is a ferocious Vegas wind, one that we saw at the Shriners a few years ago when the winning score dipped from the traditional 20-under-ish to 9-under.
As for lineup construction, it's always a challenge to find low-owned guys in small, no-cut fields. We fully expect one of the top guys to win this tournament – they usually do. And with a 72-hole chance for one of the low-priced guys to creep into the top-25 or even higher, this sounds like a good week for a stars-and-scrubs approach.
Weather-wise, most importantly the wind is forecast to be mild, in the single digits mph. Temperatures will be around 90 all week and there is at least some chance of thunderstorms every day, increasing as the week progresses.
Key Stats to Winning at The Summit Club
The most important indicators every week are current form and course history. "Key Stats" follow in order of importance.
• Strokes Gained: Approach/Greens in Regulation
• Strokes Gained: Around the Green/Scrambling
• Strokes Gained: Putting
• Birdie Average/Birdie-or-Better Percentage
We don't have much to go on in determining key stats at the Summit Club and, therefore, a champion's profile. There has never been a tournament of any consequence here. Even last year at Shadow Creek there was a sliver of history from the 2018 match between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. But all indications are that golfers can let fly off the tee with little fear. And, with the course playing so short, it shouldn't really give a big edge to the longest hitters. What little trouble there is here is around the greens, so greens in regulation should be Goal No. 1 for the golfers. After that, scrambling and sound bunker play will be needed. The golfers will have a few practice days to feel out the course, but even that might not be enough time to fully understand the greens. The over/under on the winning score as set by golfodds.com was 267.5 – 20.5 under par. We wouldn't be surprised if scores were even lower.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS
Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap
Tier 1 Values
Dustin Johnson - $11,300 (Winning odds at the DraftKings Sportsbook: +1000)
We're almost at the end of year and Johnson still does not have a PGA Tour win in calendar 2021. There's been only one year since 2008 that that hasn't happened – 2014, when Johnson's year was cut short by a personal leave/suspension/whatever. Johnson finally started playing better in the past few months, and he has four top-10s in his past six starts – and that doesn't include the Ryder Cup, where he was the clear star, going 5-0. With a short game better than he receives credit for, everything aligns nicely for DJ to have a great week.
Collin Morikawa - $10,800 (+1600)
Morikawa was not his usual self following the Olympics in July. He had a back injury, then continued to play sub-optimally even after proclaiming 100 percent health. And even in the Ryder Cup, he benefited from being paired with Johnson. All that said, we're trying not to overthink things – as a Summit Club member, Morikawa should have a real advantage, which doesn't seem quite fair when a golfer is already ranked in the top-five in the world.
Jordan Spieth - $10,300 (+2000)
This track should mitigate Spieth's biggest weaknesses – length and accuracy off the tee – while playing to his strength, which is his short game. Spieth did not have a good playoffs; in fact, he was terrible. But he did appear to do most of the heavy lifting when paired at the Ryder Cup with Justin Thomas.
Tier 2 Values
Tony Finau - $9,600 (+2500)
It feels good not having to write anymore that "Finau hasn't won in five years, blah, blah, blah," so imagine how it feels for him? He has all the tools to play well here, including on the greens. Finau ranked 91st in SG: Putting last season, far better than some past seasons. Plus he was excellent in SG: Around-the-Green with a ranking of 20th. And we all know about the rest of his game. Finau ranked top-25 last season in eagles, birdie average and birdie-or-better percentage.
Cameron Smith - $9,200 (+2800)
Smith is well-rested, having been idle since the TOUR Championship. He had one of the top short games on Tour last season, ranked 25th in Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green and 10th in SG: Putting. His trouble tends to come off the tee, where he is short and inaccurate. The Summit Club should help mask those issues. Smith ranked a surprising third on Tour last season in birdie-or-better percentage, behind only big hitters Jon Rahm and Bryson DeChambeau.
Shane Lowry - $8,300 (+2800)
Lowry has the same Sportsbook odds as Viktor Hovland ($9,900) and Brooks Koepka ($9,700), so somebody thinks very highly of the burly Irishman. And with good reason. Lowry has not missed a cut since March. He's played well in the toughest fields, with top-12s at THE PLAYERS, the PGA Championship, Memorial and the Open Championship. He was 21st at the Masters. And Lowry ranked top-20 on Tour last season in both SG: Approach and Around-the-Green.
Tier 3 Values
Adam Scott - $8,100 (+5000)
Frankly, Scott is probably our least confident pick of them all. We just couldn't get excited over anyone in a nearly $1,000 range between $7,400 and $8,300. Scott is the best in that bunch, in our estimation. He hasn't had many high finishes this year. On the other hand, he hasn't played a lot – only 18 times – and he was runner-up at the Wyndham. Scott surely was accurate with his irons, ranked seventh in SG: Approach. And his putting is better than the narrative. He ranked 65th in SG: Putting last season.
Aaron Wise - $7,400 (+6000)
Wise now lives in Vegas and, who knows, maybe he knows somebody who knows somebody who could've gotten him onto the Summit Club once it was announced for the CJ Cup? Regardless, Wise has been playing great golf of late, and that's the primary reason to take him. He tied for eighth last week at the nearby Shriners, which was his fourth straight top-26 finish. Wise ranked 25th in birdie-or-better percentage last season.
Maverick McNealy - $7,300 (+8000)
Hi, it's me, Captain Obvious again, going with the other member of the Summit Club who's in this field. But again, McNealy is playing well and has been in our picks in recent weeks. He was runner-up at the season-opening Fortinet, which was his sixth top-25 in a nine-start span before missing last week's cut. McNealy ranked 40th on Tour last season in birdie average and 41st in birdie-or-better. And don't forget about his 61 at the Summit Club.
Alex Noren - $7,100 (+6000)
Noren very quietly had a terrific second half to last season, barely missing a spot in the Tour Championship (33rd in the standings) and currently situated 60th in the world rankings. He finished top-10 in the first two playoff events. He then tied for 27th at the prestigious BMW PGA Championship in Europe and followed that with a T12 at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Noren has a superior short game, as he ranked 27th in SG: Around-the-Green and 13th in SG: Putting last season.
Cam Davis - $6,400 (+13000)
Davis has been playing the best golf of his young career over the past few months. True, he hasn't had a top-25 since winning the Rocket Mortgage Classic on July 4, but he's had a bunch of near-misses, including T31 and T29 in two playoff events and T27 last week at the Shriners. Davis belongs in the Long Shot category in this field, but $6,400 seems a bit low. He ranked second on Tour last season in eagles, 22nd in birdie average and 14th in birdie-or-better percentage.
Mackenzie Hughes - $6,100 (+13000)
Hughes carries a stretch of nine straight made cuts into this week – sure, there's no cut this week, but it speaks to how well he's been playing. The Canadian had a great summer, finishing 15th at the U.S. Open and top-10 at the Open Championship. As one of the top putters on Tour, Hughes can get you a lot of birdies and, with no fear of missing the cut, has some serious upside at a rock-bottom price.