Weekly Preview: THE CJ CUP @ SUMMIT

Weekly Preview: THE CJ CUP @ SUMMIT

This article is part of our Weekly Preview series.

THE CJ CUP @ SUMMIT

The Summit Club
Las Vegas, NV

The PGA Tour stays put, as the pros again tee it up in Las Vegas this week. 

Unlike this past week's track, The Summit Club is brand new to the PGA Tour, which considering where this tournament lands on the schedule, is going to make it tricky forecasting a winner. As always, we'll move forward with the data we have and make our best guess. 

While the course is new to us – always a pain – we at least get a lot of big names back in the mix, which should be fun. Motivation is frequently a question with a number of players in that category, as it's difficult to discern whether or not they're taking it easy for the rest of the year or if they are still grinding it out and trying to get a leg up on the competition before 2022 rolls around. An easy way to figure that out is to check a player's past results in the fall. Some guys fare well this time of year and others don't. You'll need more than a year or two of data to make an assumption, though, as a small sample size could be indicative of some other condition, such as a hot streak or a temporary distraction. Not all the best golfers are on hand, but there are more than enough to make me think this should be an exciting week.

LAST YEAR

Jason Kokrak

THE CJ CUP @ SUMMIT

The Summit Club
Las Vegas, NV

The PGA Tour stays put, as the pros again tee it up in Las Vegas this week. 

Unlike this past week's track, The Summit Club is brand new to the PGA Tour, which considering where this tournament lands on the schedule, is going to make it tricky forecasting a winner. As always, we'll move forward with the data we have and make our best guess. 

While the course is new to us – always a pain – we at least get a lot of big names back in the mix, which should be fun. Motivation is frequently a question with a number of players in that category, as it's difficult to discern whether or not they're taking it easy for the rest of the year or if they are still grinding it out and trying to get a leg up on the competition before 2022 rolls around. An easy way to figure that out is to check a player's past results in the fall. Some guys fare well this time of year and others don't. You'll need more than a year or two of data to make an assumption, though, as a small sample size could be indicative of some other condition, such as a hot streak or a temporary distraction. Not all the best golfers are on hand, but there are more than enough to make me think this should be an exciting week.

LAST YEAR

Jason Kokrak shot a final-round 64 on his way to a two-stroke victory over Xander Schauffele.

FAVORITES

Dustin Johnson (12-1)

DJ makes his first appearance coming off a relatively down campaign, but if his performance at the Ryder Cup a few weeks ago is any indication, it looks like he might be ready to take over again. Johnson's Ryder Cup performance didn't happen out of the blue either – his two starts leading up to that event were strong, as he posted top-10s at both the BMW Championship and TOUR Championship. This week will likely tell the tale of how DJ closes out the year, and I have a feeling he does so in style.

Justin Thomas (12-1)

The top of the odds chart is stacked with the members of the U.S.A. Ryder Cup team, which makes sense in that those players are some of the best in the world and a lot of them are seemingly in good form, or they were when we last saw them. I wonder though how much we can take from that event as it's completely unlike anything these guys encounter on a weekly basis. Thomas played well at the Ryder Cup, but he wasn't nearly as dominant as DJ and Thomas didn't close the year out quite as well. I have DJ a notch above JT at the moment.

Xander Schauffele (12-1)

Schauffele continues to impress as he picked up yet another notch in his belt this past season in the form of a gold medal at the Olympic Games, but he needs a major to join the elite golfers at the top of the PGA Tour. He'll have to wait several months for his next chance, but he can still add to his resume by winning here. This is exactly the type of event that Schauffele has excelled at during his career, not a major, but still prestigious because of the strength of the field.

THE NEXT TIER

Tony Finau (25-1)

Finau is going to be one of the most interesting players to watch this season. For years he was thought to be on the cusp of greatness, but he could never manage to close out even a normal tour stop. Now that he got that elusive win out of the way, do the flood gates open? I think they do as it felt like he was a different player at the Ryder Cup, one with a renewed confidence that he belongs out here with the best. Add a little confidence to his already stellar game and look out. The days of getting 25-1 on Finau might be coming to an end soon.

Sam Burns (25-1)

It will be fun to track the progress of Burns this season. He made his breakthrough this past season and he wasted no time in backing that up with a win out of the gates this year. The next step is to start winning against very string fields, like the one we have this week. It's surely a tall task to take down the likes of DJ, JT, Morikawa, etc... but all those players were in Burns' shoes at one point, and they made the leap. Now it's time to see if Burns can do it as well.

Viktor Hovland (25-1)

Hovland did not fare that well in his first start of the new season this past week, but a closer look reveals that it was really just one bad round that set him on a course to a T44 at the Shriners. Hovland is one of the few upper-level golfers in the field that has played since the Ryder Cup, so we at least have a feel for where his game is at. While it's not where we'd like it to be just yet, there were signs this past week that he's not that far off. Besides, this will be his first chance to exact revenge on the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

LONG SHOTS

Patrick Reed (60-1)

When you are looking at long shots against a field like this you need to find one of two types of golfers. The first is one that has no idea what he's up against, perhaps a young golfer that's just playing golf and not concerned with the strength of the field or that he has no business beating these guys. The second is one that has beaten these guys and might not be at the top of his game currently but is always capable of popping up out of nowhere to win. That's Reed, he's been there done that and although he hasn't been at his best recently, he knows how to beat the best.

Rickie Fowler (125-1)  

We're talking long shots here, right? No one expects Fowler to win this week – or perhaps even this season – after the way he's played over the past couple years, but there's no denying that at one time, Fowler had the game to compete with anyone. Where that game went is a mystery, but as Spieth proved this past season, you can get it back. Hopefully Fowler finds his game this season – preferably in the coming days – and while he's certainly a huge long shot, he's got the talent to win.

ONE-AND-DONE LEAGUES

Highly-owned Pick: Xander Schauffele - I can't imagine that many OAD players will deploy DJ or JT in this spot or at any point during the fall season, so that leaves Schauffele as the next man up. It's not that Schauffele won't have a ton of value in 2022, but you have to ask yourself if you'll see him at better than 12-1 at any point next season. Maybe? If he continues to improve perhaps he'll have better odds to win at some point in 2022, but it's no guarantee.

Moderately-owned Pick: Tony Finau - The floodgates could open for Finau this season or he might just stay on a path as a high-level, but not elite golfer on the PGA Tour. Either way, you probably aren't saving him for the majors just yet and while he might find better odds at some point in 2022, this might be the time to strike as his confidence is at an all-time high.

Lightly-owned Pick: Sam Burns - Burns was likely heavily used this past week, but that won't be the case this time around, as many of the PGA Tour's top players return to action. Burns is still a solid pick, as he's near his top form and has proven fearless over the past 12 months. I don't think he's worried about the field – I think he's excited to beat them.

Buyer Beware: Brooks Koepka - I'm just going to keep his name here until the Masters. Seriously, it was no surprise to see Koepka struggle at the Shriners Children's Open coming off the Ryder Cup, and while the competition this week should grab his attention more than it did in his last appearance, I still don't think we'll see his best form until sometime in 2022.

Last Week: Mito Pereira - T40 - $28,350

Season Total: $28,350

This Week: Sam Burns - As just mentioned, I think Burns is relishing the opportunity to beat the best in the world and since he's only a couple weeks removed from a win on the PGA Tour, this might be the best time to use him. There will be good spots to use him in 2022, but he probably won't be better than 25-1 too often. Why not strike while the iron is hot?

FANDUEL PICKS

Upper Range: Xander Schauffele $11,800
Middle Range: Viktor Hovland $10,900
Lower Range: Rickie Fowler $8,300

SURVIVOR LEAGUES

Last Week: Ryan Moore - MC

Streak: 0

This Week: Sam Burns - My short streak came to an end this past week, as Ryan Moore failed to make the cut. It's always risky to take a guy who is nowhere near his best anymore, but I thought the track record would prevail. With no history to lean on this week I have to take someone who is in good form, and Burns fits that bill. Not only is he playing well, his motivation is not in question because he will undoubtedly want to get the best of the elite players.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Greg Vara
Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the FSWA Golf Writer of the Year in 2005 and 2013. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.
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