The Republic of Korea is a beautiful country with some of the smartest, most hard-working and innovative people on the planet.
Attention to detail is of the utmost importance there and that explains why there are more and more superstars coming out of the ROK.
It is even more apparent on the Women’s PGA Tour.
7 out of the top 15 including spots 1, thru 3 in the Rolex Rankings are all from the Land of the Morning Calm.
I was sent to Osan Air Base, South Korea about an hour south of Seoul for a year assignment when I was 20 years old.
I was an extremely picky eater and even thought that rice was a vegetable when I arrived. That didn’t last long as I proceeded to eat every last plate put in front of me and the smell of kimchi continues to warm my heart to this day.
We spent a lot of our time driving around the Air Base sampling various water holes for contamination.
Now, Osan wasn’t a big base by Air Force standards but we had enough golf courses to make the Donald proud, 5 in fact.
This was in 2003, and the Korean civilians who worked with us were always teeing it up.
Last season’s Rookie of the Year on the PGA Tour, Sungjae Im, was 5 years old at the time is actually from Jeju Island.
If you get a chance to visit South Korea, definitely see Seoul, take the train to Busan, and catch a short flight to Jeju Do (Island) from there.
Back to golf, though. This is only the third time around for the golfers at The Club at Nine Bridges hosts only the third annual CJ Cup for the PGA Tour.
We are on schedule, at least, as some tournaments have switched months or even seasons but this one is always played in mid-October.
There’s no secret that October is a popular month for most of the United States but it was my favorite in Korea as well. I remember 30 days of sunshine with reduced humidity and virtually no rain.
Wind can be a factor on the island and it has before at this tournament but there’s a minimal breeze in the forecast for Thursday and possibly Friday with calm conditions forecasted for the weekend.
A certain wind talking Aussie by the name of Marc Leishman is likely hoping for the tide to usher in some gusty conditions.
The online sportsbook BetOnline has the lines for us this week.
Let’s get to the betting odds and picks for the PGA Tour’s CJ Cup.
There are several super sophomores to choose from this week but I like Wolff firstly due to his ability to crush the ball.
He only played 29 rounds last year, so you won’t find his name among the leaders in driving distance but he’s 11th so far this season and would have been 10th in 2018-2019.
There are a couple of reachable par 4’s and the par 5’s are fairly short as well.
Aggression and power are two prerequisites for Jeju Island, a calm Jeju that is.
Yes, that could change as it is, of course, a coastal climate but I like Wolff here.
I’m not saying he’s going to win the thing but he definitely has the attitude, ability, and skillset.
His last day of play was October 6th when he wrapped up an appearance in Las Vegas at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open with a very respectable 18th place finish in what was a strong field of fellow golfers.
His first win of many, in my opinion, came back on July 4th weekend at the 3M Open where he showed his mental toughness and finishing ability.
He was tied with fellow rook Collin Morikawa and Bryson “Slo-mo” Dechambeau for the lead. Many rookies and vets would have found a way to fold or at least be frustrated by the Hogan hatter’s pace but he defeated Colin and the putting ace by one stroke finishing 21 under par for the tournament.
Can you imagine you’re 20-years-old soaking wet and Dechambeau, playing ahead of you, sinks an eagle on the par 5 18th to take a one-stroke lead?
Then, you have a 26-foot putt to record an eagle of your own and win.
Are you aggressive with said putt or are you content with a playoff with one of the world’s best?
He went for it and sunk it!
This is the kind of golfer and more so competitor we all wish we could be. In college at Oklahoma State, he sank a Division I National Championship-winning putt for his team.
I think Matt gets 3 or more victories this season on the PGA Tour. Yes, other extraordinary young golfers are currently emerging. There’s Viktor Hovland, the previously mentioned Colin Morikawa, and local boy Sungjae Im.
It appears that while these guys might be fairly evenly matched physically, Wolff is well beyond his 20 years of age in mental strength.
The baby-faced Brisbaner has collectively performed better here than anyone who has played both years.
Finishing 7th last year and 3rd in 2017, Cam shows that he can excel at the Club @ Nine Bridges in both harsh and fair conditions.
Sure, he’s not Brooks Koepka or Justin Thomas who are the CJ Cup’s previous winners but Brooks only played here last year and Justin fell back to 36th in 2018 as he is just a hair short on power and aggression compared to the younger hungrier lions out there.
I expect both of these men to perform well and Brooks could very well repeat but you have to respect the top 5 average for the Aussie.
He is also in fairly good form at the moment. Cam was 24th at the Greenbrier in West Virginia. That’s set on the side of a mountain like this course is on the side of a volcano.
Same, same but different.
He faltered at Sanderson Farms but an impressive 13th a couple of weeks ago in Vegas is promising. Some notables who finished ahead of him there were Na, Cantlay, Dechambeau, Hadwin, Simpson, and Finau.
Statistically, he isn’t the amazing driver of the ball we should be focusing on for this week’s course but he can putt very well and stats or no stats, he plays this course well.
He can scramble and he can putt with the best in the world. His body is also rather familiar with the time zone.
I’ll give Smith some love here.
A player this young in his first time playing a tournament with so many high-level golfers in the field and he is (-115) for a top twenty?!
I think the bookies are trying to scare some people away with his prices.
You will find names like Spieth, Day, Reavie, Garcia, and Woodland below him on the betting board.
I expect punters to turn up their noses after seeing Vik so high.
He’s an excellent driver of the golf ball, is young, hungry, and well-rested.
He plays very aggressively as well which I have already emphasized the importance of that trait for the potential winner of the CJ Cup.
He hasn’t played here before but he has had a month off and deeper pockets than he’s had his entire life, so I expect the man has been getting in at least a few practice rounds at Nine Bridges already.
How is his recent form, though?
Well, his highest round ever as a pro is a 73!
He currently has 17 straight rounds in the 60s. One more and he will have the record on record since 1983.
He hasn’t been overly busy in this young season but he has finished in the top 16 in nine out of his last ten events including the US Open.
Jeju Do Island is a one of a kind place. If you ever get the opportunity to visit, you should.
Korean Food is one of a kind and once you go kimchi and soju, you never go back.
The CJ Cup is just in its third year in 2019.
The only men to win here are Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas.
Both will be in the field this week.
I like the youth this week, though.
Matthew Wolff is a stone-cold killer…of the golf ball that is.
To be able to match his skill with the ability to finish at the highest level against the odds is often amiss in professional golf.
We see it all the time. Some of the world best are simply frontrunners. They are skillful and if that’s all they need, then great but how do they respond when there are millions on the line with their opponent seemingly unphased?
I’m looking forward to Brooks, Justin, and the youngins testing themselves against a gorgeous Korean Island landscape.
Tune in, turn up and cash out!