We’ve got another limited field this week for the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges. Only 78 players are in the field, as the top 60 from the FedEx Cup standings plus some top Asian players and some sponsor exemptions make up the field for the second event at Nine Bridges Golf Club. Justin Thomas won last year’s inaugural event, which was another effort by the PGA Tour to grow the game in Asia.
With next week’s WGC event in China, we’ll have 15 of the top 40 in the Official World Golf Ranking on hand, so this is a stronger field than what we had to work with in last week’s CIMB Classic.
We’ll dig down the board for some top value options for this event and for all the events this golf season.
CT Pan ($7,800) – Cheng-Tsung Pan played much better than his final line from the CIMB Classic would indicate. Pan had an eagle and 21 birdies to go along with nine bogies and a double. He was 12-under, but that was only good enough for 30th on a course where low numbers are an imperative. Pan was strong with his irons, but did struggle in a lot of other areas. Nine Bridges requires good iron play with a lot of well-protected greens. Pan struggled here last year, but he came on strong in the second half of the 2017-18 season with a couple of top-five finishes at the Wyndham and the Dell Technologies Championship.
JB Holmes ($7,500) – JB Holmes has been swinging it extremely well through two events to start the year. He was ninth at the Safeway Open at Silverado and then flew west to Malaysia to finish just outside the top 10 at the CIMB Classic with an 18-under that placed him 13th. Each of the last six rounds for Holmes have come in under 70 and he has 47 birdies through those last two events. Holmes did not play well at all here last year, but that probably gives us a little bit of value on a guy that is in solid form through two events.
Si Woo Kim ($7,400) – It couldn’t have been easy to go into the CJ Cup as a Korean player last year. Si Woo Kim was one of several in the field playing on home soil for the first time in a PGA Tour event. Si Woo struggled and finished tied for 44th. Now a year older and a year wiser, the 23-year-old comes in off of a solid top-10 effort at the CIMB Classic. Kim putted very well, but struggled to get to the green when he was supposed to. Perhaps he was looking ahead a little bit to this one. In any event, he still played well and those nerves should be tamed a bit for a second crack at this title on Jeju Island.
Whee Kim ($6,600) – Whee Kim did not excel last week at the CIMB Classic, as he finished tied for 59th, but he’s been able to play two events now. Kim has not played well off of the tee, but that isn’t a huge concern here at Nine Bridges because this isn’t a course about length or fairways. This is a course about hitting greens with tough approach shots. Kim was very good at that two weeks ago at Silverado and it saved him from some really bad numbers at TPC Kuala Lumpur. Everything else let him down. Also a South Korea native from Seoul, Whee Kim was fourth here last year. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him knocking on the door once again, even if he isn’t in tip-top form.
Cameron Smith ($9,000) – I’m going to keep pushing this guy until he wins an event and prices us out. Cameron Smith was not as good as I expected last week at the CIMB Classic, as he finished 22nd. That being said, he didn’t shoot any rounds over 69. He just didn’t make enough birdies to hang the kinds of numbers that players need at that event. Smith was third here last year and, as mentioned last week, he’s played very well in these Asian events and early in the season. He was third in two of the FedEx Cup playoffs events, which should have given him some confidence for the start of a new season.