PGA TOUR Odds: CJ Cup Preview at Congaree Golf Club

Written By John Haslbauer on October 17, 2022
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For selfish reasons, I’d hoped we would never see Congaree Golf Club again when betting PGA TOUR odds. Entering the back nine in the final round of 2021 Palmetto Championship, Harris English and Chesson Hadley were tied with a five-stroke lead on the rest of the field. I, a Harris English outright bettor, decided this was a good time to hedge on Chesson Hadley. Needless to say, the co-leaders shot a combined +8 on the back nine and handed Garrick Higgo his first PGA TOUR victory. I have sparingly hedged on golf outrights since.

My personal bad beats aside, it is great news that the PGA TOUR has found a way to reintroduce Congaree Golf Club to the schedule after the one-off Palmetto Championship. With continued travel complications into South Korea due to COVID-19, the CJ Cup will be played on a new course for the fourth consecutive year. Its first three years starting in 2018 were played at Nine Bridges in South Korea. After the pandemic, the ensuing events prior to this year were contested at Shadow Creek and The Summit Club.

This year’s host, Congaree Golf Club is a private, top-40 course in the United States, and requires a unique blend of skillsets in firm and fast conditions that will put emphasis on driving distance, long-irons, and scrambling from difficult green side bunkers on firm and pristine, often elevated Bermuda greens.

Now let’s get into the key facts and info about Congaree Golf Club before betting CJ Cup odds.

PGA TOUR ODDS: THE CJ CUP FAVORITES

To compare PGA TOUR odds in legal sports betting states, as well as other CJ Cup offerings, scroll to the bottom of this post. Here are the golfers with odds to win the CJ Cup at shorter than 20-1.

R. McIlroy
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+650
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+800
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+700
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+600
J. Rahm
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+900
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+1000
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+900
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+900
S. Scheffler
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+1100
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+1400
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+1200
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+1200
J. Thomas
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+1600
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+1400
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+1600
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+1400

CJ CUP ODDS: FIELD AT A GLANCE

For the first time this 2022-23 PGA TOUR season, we have ourselves a bona fide, star-studded field. An increased purse coupled with a convenient state-side relocation has made this a popular spot for the game’s best to kick off their seasons. World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler will be making his season debut this week. He’ll be joined by last year’s CJ Cup champion and World No. 2, Rory McIlroy, to headline this event.

In addition to Scheffler and McIlroy, this limited field of 78 players will feature a total of 17 OWGR top-25 players. Excluding those who have joined LIV, the only OWGR top-25 players eligible for this field who will not be teeing it up are Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay, Will Zalatoris and Tony Finau. Otherwise, all the big names in golf are here in South Carolina this week.

Event History will not be relevant here with Congaree Golf Club making its debut as host to the CJ Cup, but the list of former CJ Cup winners in this field includes defending champion Rory McIlroy and two-time winner at Nine Bridges, Justin Thomas. Garrick Higgo won the 2021 Palmetto Championship, Congaree Golf Club’s only other event hosted, but is not qualified for this week’s limited field.

INTRODUCTION TO CONGAREE GOLF CLUB

Congaree Golf Club is a refreshing, new private golf course established in 2018 in Gillisonville, South Carolina. It wasted no time capturing the attention of golf lovers, already stacking accolades like Golf Digest’s best new golf course in 2018 and No. 39 on their most recent top-100 United States rankings.

Congaree Golf Club is a plantation-style, lowland golf course, designed by Tom Fazio to play into South Carolina’s distinct natural topography, creating challenges rarely otherwise presented on a PGA TOUR tournament course. At Congaree, there is hardly any rough to find on property and the fairways in 2021 ranked as the widest on the PGA TOUR. The course is designed to play firm and fast throughout, and features ample runoff areas into natural waste bunkers surrounding both the fairways and greens, similar to the layout of Royal Melbourne or the nearby Ocean Course at Kiawah Island.

Congaree Golf Club was host to the 2021 Palmetto Championship, a late replacement on the schedule to the RBC Canadian Open in the week prior to the U.S. Open. Given its unfortunate placement on the schedule, virtually every top player skipped this event in 2021, with the exception of Dustin Johnson, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood, and Tyrrell Hatton. It is difficult to glean any noteworthy trends from just four rounds at this course, but the top-10 of the 2021 Palmetto Championship included Garrick Higgo, Doc Redman, Hudson Swafford, Tyrrell Hatton, Chesson Hadley, Bo Van Pelt, Jhonattan Vegas, David Lipsky, and Matt Fitzpatrick. That would suggest a slight advantage towards bombers and locals to the surrounding South Carolina area as we look ahead to a much improved field at the CJ Cup.

How It Breaks Down

Congaree Golf Club is amongst the longest courses on the PGA TOUR, standing at 7,655 yards as a par-71 with three par-5s, four par-3s, and 11 par-4s. Despite the significant distance on the scorecard, these wide open, firm and fast fairways have encouraged a heavy dosage of drivers, and led to an average driving distance of 302 yards in 2021, about 12 yards above the TOUR average. This is a course that bombers can take advantage of, but assuming dry conditions, the rollout from these firm fairways should allow shorter hitters with strong long irons to remain in contention.

There is length throughout this course with all three par-5s measuring over 580 yards and three par-4s measuring over 510 yards. Three of the four par-3s also measure over 195 yards, creating a high volume of approach shots from 200+ yards.

There are two risk-reward driveable par-4s, each measuring 360 yards, which each produce birdie or better rates of over 30% in 2021. The scoring averages from 2021 should be taken with a massive grain of salt given the disparity in field quality in store this week, but a total of 12 holes featured a scoring average above par at the Palmetto Championship. I would expect lower scores at the CJ Cup with so many of the game’s best in town, but this volume of long approach shots on a new course should lead to moderate scoring, with an emphasis on bogey avoidance and scrambling. I would predict -15 to be the winning score by week’s end.

Traits And Recent Notable Facts

Again, the results from the 2021 Palmetto Championship relative to other events that year are skewed by the lack of field depth. But with that said, the metrics from this course stood out in a few notable key areas.

Of all 40 courses played in 2021, Congaree featured the widest fairways and longest average driving distance. That means we can expect the field at large to repeatedly unleash off the tee box, which should favor bombers and those who are otherwise disadvantaged by driving inaccuracy.

The course’s best defense are the firm conditions and natural waste bunkers, which are positioned to catch any drivers that run through these fast fairways. Congaree ranked bottom-5 in terms of Non-Rough Penalty and SG: ARG difficulty from greenside bunkers, so players who are most comfortable playing from out of the sand should have a leg up at this event.

CONGAREE GOLF CLUB COURSE SPECS

  • Yards: 7,655
  • Par: 71 (4x 3’s / 11x 4’s / 3x 5’s)
  • Greens: Bermuda
  • Architect: Tom Fazio
  • Comp Courses: Plantation Course at Kapalua, Quail Hollow, Kiawah Island (Ocean Course), TPC Craig Ranch, Corales GC, PGA National, Sea Island Resort (Seaside), Vidanta Vallarta, Southern Hills
  • Median Four-Round Score: -3 (’21)
  • Pat Winners (CJ Cup): Rory McIlroy (’22), Jason Kokrak (’21), Justin Thomas (’20, ’18), Brooks Koepka (’19)
  • Past Winners (At Congaree GC): Garrick Higgo -11 (’21)
  • Hole-By-Hole Breakdown:
Congaree Golf Club (7,655 Yards)

COURSE HISTORY AND COURSE COMPS

This is not a week to look very closely into Course History when narrowing down PGA TOUR odds, with just one year of data to reference. In that year, we saw the best players rise to the top, with a preference to bombers and local South Carolinians familiar with this plantation-style, lowland, Bermuda terrain. Garrick Higgo is not here to defend his 2021 title, but the top-20 finishers from the 2021 Palmetto Championship back in the field this week includes Tyrrell Hatton, David Lipsky, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Chez Reavie, Harris English, Beau Hossler, and Seamus Power.

Luke List notably holds the course record at Congaree Golf Club outside of tournament play, though he saw an early exit at the Palmetto Championship. Lucas Glover is an ambassador for Congaree and has great familiarity with the course, but also had a disappointing missed cut in 2021. Keith Mitchell, Sepp Straka, and JT Poston round out the list of trending players this week who missed the cut in their previous appearance at Congaree.

Course Comps

While Congaree presents a unique layout and challenge of firm and fast conditions that combine features from the South Carolina lowlands and Australian Sand Belt, there are actually quite a few courses on the PGA TOUR that can serve as strong comps for the conditions that lie ahead.

My favorite comps for Congaree would begin with Kiawah Island (Ocean Course) and Vidanta Vallarta, as both rely on extreme length as their primary defense, while featuring a high volume of complex bunkers that require skilled touch from around the greens to scramble for pars.

In addition to the Kiawah Island, a few other examples of plantation-style courses in this region of the country with comparable Bermuda agronomy include Sea Island Resort (Seaside) and PGA National. Quail Hollow, though not plantation-style, is another long, comparable Tom Fazio-designed Bermuda course that should reward a similar style of play.

The Plantation Course at Kapalua, host of the Sentry Tournament of Champions, is one of few other examples of a long course with massive fairways that allows players to regularly swing freely with driver in hand. With that said, birdie fest conditions are not expected at at Congaree, like we saw in the showdown between Cam Smith and Jon Rahm earlier this year.

As more tertiary comps, I also like Southern Hills, TPC Craig Ranch, and Corales GC for their combination of length, long-iron emphasis, open and forgiving fairways, and emphasis on scrambling from around the green.

Combine performance across this list and the top-10 players in Comp Course History here are Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm, Webb Simpson, Gary Woodland, Aaron Wise, Jason Day, Sungjae Im, and David Lipsky.

KEY STATS TO CONSIDER BEFORE BETTING PGA TOUR ODDS

  • SG: APP / SG: Ball Striking
  • Driving Distance
  • Prox 200+
  • Opportunities Gained
  • SG: T2G (>7,400 Yard Courses)
  • Sand Saves Gained
  • SG: Putting (Bermuda / Firm & Fast / 3 Putt Avoidance)
  • Course & Comp Course History

Looking at the best approach players heading into this week, the top-10 in terms of SG: APP include Russell Henley, Tom Kim, Mito Pereira, Rory McIlroy, Shane Lowry, Scottie Scheffler, Hideki Matsuyama, Collin Morikawa, Lee Hodges, and Brendan Steele. Honing in more granularly on the 200+ yard range, where a majority of holes are expected to funnel approaches to, the top-10 includes Brendan Steele, Sungjae Im, Max Homa, Collin Morikawa, Gary Woodland, Cam Davis, Emiliano Grillo, Trey Mullinax, Alex Smalley, and Mito Pereira.

It’s difficult to project how tough this course will play at the CJ Cup relative to the 2021 Palmetto Championship. In a far inferior field, the mark of -11 was enough to win. With a far more formidable field in town this year, I do expect the top players to generate more scoring opportunities, but not enough to hone in on the best pure birdie-makers. Instead as a compromise, I’ll look to Opportunities Gained as a broader proxy for those able to generate the most birdie looks. The top-10 players in Opportunities Gained are Mito Pereira, Rory McIlroy, Cam Davis, Justin Thomas, Davis Riley, Russell Henley, Scottie Scheffler, Tom Hoge, Shane Lowry, and Jordan Spieth.

Expanding on Opportunities Gained, the greens complexes are large and nuanced at Congaree, leading to some unpredictability in how top putters will perform on these grounds. With that in mind the top-10 players best equipped to navigate these greens based on a combination of SG: P (L36), SG: P (Bermuda), and SG: P (Firm & Fast), and 3-Putt Avoidance are Beau Hossler, Alex Noren, Brendon Todd, Maverick McNealy, Denny McCarthy, Sungjae Im, Tyrrell Hatton, Sam Burns, Taylor Montgomery, and Max Homa.

Looking more granularly to approximate this week’s conditions, there are just nine players who rank above-average in Comp Course History, SG: T2G (>7,400 Yards), and Weighted Putting: Justin Thomas, Sungjae Im, Scottie Scheffler, Hideki Matsuyama, Aaron Wise, Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm, Tyrrell Hatton, and Christiaan Bezuidenhout.

The ideal player for this week should rank above-average in Driving Distance, SG: Approach, 3-Putt Avoidance, and SG: P on Bermuda & Firm/Fast Greens. That is the inference I made before the Palmetto Championship, and Garrick Higgo was one of only six players to fit the mold. This year, there are just five players in the field who meet that criteria: Sungjae Im, Sam Burns, Aaron Wise, Cam Davis, and Tyrrell Hatton.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: GARY WOODLAND

There is a short list of players who can do no wrong in my book, and Gary Woodland remains one of them after his victory at the 2019 U.S. Open. He is forever in my good graces. And you really do need that level of unconditional support to still be touting Gary Woodland in a field as loaded as this one with zero top-50 finishes over his last five starts.

As I look to project PGA TOUR odds on the board on Sunday night, there is not one clear favorite I feel will definitively be on my card regardless of where odds open, so it’s shaping up to be a week of betting the best available number. With that said, I’m already comfortable locking Gary onto the card in a buy-low spot for what profiles to be a perfect course fit ahead of his Congaree debut.

Woodland is a Florida resident and should welcome the return to this region of the country. He’s gained 5 strokes tee-to-green in each of his first two starts this season on Southeast Bermuda, and posted top-5 finishes in back-to-back Florida swing events at the 2022 Honda Classic and Arnold Palmer Invitational. The putter has held him back from contending more recently, so a return to familiar Bermuda greens should be a welcomed sight.

Looking across the key stats this week, Congaree should allow Woodland to capitalize on his above-average driving distance and feed into his strengths of long-irons (No. 5 Prox: 200+). He ranks No. 6 in Comp Course History, with recent top-10 finishes at PGA National, Quail Hollow, and Kapalua within the last 2 years. He’s a longshot, but with his ball-striking starting to trend, I’m taking a shot on Gary, knowing these putts will eventually start to fall again for the Major champion. Event History is technically a meaningless stat this week, but if we choose to buy into the narrative, Woodland has posted top-10 finishes in three of his last four CJ Cup appearances.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR AT THE CJ CUP

The CJ Cup feels a bit like a random event to elicit a field of this quality, but in any case, they’ve built it, and the best players on the PGA TOUR have come, so that’s something to get excited about. With limited data to pull from on this course, it’s difficult to go in with much conviction on any given player, which makes for a challenging week to take stances on a player pool, as many different types of players in this deep field possess the skillsets to win here. In any case, I’m looking forward to tracking along this week in a familiar time zone yet again.

With all the course-fit profiles in mind, I’m leaning early towards the below player pool. Naturally, I’m looking their way in the PGA TOUR odds as well. I’ve broken the list down by projected pricing/odds tier for DraftKings.

In my model, I’m emphasizing SG: APP, Comp Course History, and Prox: 200+ followed by a more balanced mix of Opportunities Gained, SG: T2G (>7,400 Yard Courses), Sand Saves Gained, and SG: P (L36, Bermuda, and Firm & Fast Conditions).

Model Favorites

Rory McIlroy claims the No. 1 overall spot in the model this week, as he looks to follow up his RBC Canadian Open victory with another title defense on a rotating PGA TOUR course set up. This course was tailor made by Tom Fazio for Rory, and will undoubtedly reward his skillsets of elite driving distance, ball-striking, and putting on Bermuda greens. I’d expect him to stay in the single-digits when odds open on Monday, but if for any reason he drifts beyond that, he’ll be a worthy consideration for a tight betting card.

After Rory, the rest of my model’s top 10 features Justin Thomas, Sungjae Im, Shane Lowry, Scottie Scheffler, Hideki Matsuyama, Cam Davis, Aaron Wise, Cameron Young, and Collin Morikawa.

It’s a difficult week to project odds with much certainty, and there’s a wide pool of players I’m going to be considering when odds open on Monday. That said, I’ll consider a short card of Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, or Jon Rahm along with long shots of Gary Woodland and Harris English if the odds are right.

Check back in later this week for more updates, and best of luck betting PGA TOUR odds!

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John Haslbauer Avatar
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John Haslbauer

John Haslbauer writes about golf betting and advanced golf metrics for TheLines.com. He is a passionate golf fan, golf writer, and (casual) golfer. A graduate at Syracuse University, John works out of Jersey City as a Director of Media Strategy for HBO and HBO Max. He created the website thepgatout.com at the start of 2021 and is active on Twitter (@PGATout). No, he is not a tout. The Twitter handle is a joke. Touts are lame. We hate touts.

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