CJ Cup Betting Tips
Robert Cobley is a maths graduate with years of experience in the sports betting industry. He has now teamed up with Bet UK to bring his golf betting tips to our readers.
The Club at Nine Bridges - Jeju Island, South Korea - Par 72, 7,241 Yards
The PGA Tour moves out to South Korea this week for its annual visit to the Asian Peninsula. Originally designed to link in with and to promote the PGA Tour Asia, this event is now in its third staging. The Asian branch of the Tour has yet to really take off, and this year has only hosted a meagre eight events before this week. That does not, and should not, lessen the prestige of this limited field (78 players) event this week which includes some of the biggest names in golf on an inviting but challenging golf course.
The Club at Nine Bridges is set between the airport and the city of Seogwipo and was designed back in 2001 by Golf Plan USA. The designers should not fool you however, as this course is very much in the traditional southeast Asian mold, and very little like what we would traditionally see on the PGA Tour each week. A challenging, undulating, forested course, and not short at just under 7,300 yards, Nine Bridges presents an intriguing challenge. The fairways are fairly wide, but most holes dogleg one way or the other, making placement of the shots even more important than usual. The rough is thick, and water is very much in play from the tee on four holes. Whilst the fairways are generous, the water, thick rough, and forest are heavily penal to players that don't keep the ball in the fairways this week, and a good long game will be essential.
For the approach shots, the players need to avoid the substantial bunkering around the greens. With no fewer than 110 bunkers, these are some of the most heavily protected greens on Tour and distance control on the approaches will be crucial. The putting surfaces are medium sized, bentgrass, and shouldn't be too hard to put on. Players keeping the ball in play and hitting a large number of greens in regulation should expect to contend, and the winning score is likely to be around 15 under par, although this could change based on the conditions. Nine Bridges is exposed to gusty and changeable winds, and these always play a factor across the week. The forecast this week is calm, and the key performance statistic is greens in regulation. It is crucial that players stay out of trouble.
Last Two Winners
The Market Leaders
World Number five Justin Thomas (7/1) comes into this week as the slight favourite with the bookmakers. Whilst this might surprise some given Koepka's runaway victory here last year on his only previous visit to Nine Bridges, I would have to say they've called this one right. Thomas has found his best form again recently, winning the BMW Championship at Medinah in some style before a 3rd place finish at The Tour Championship a week later saw him just miss out on taking another FedEx Cup title. It's hard to see him not shrugging off last year's disappointment here and getting into contention once more.
Behind Thomas sits fellow American and World number one Brooks Koepka (8/1). Koepka won on his first visit here last season, and is some style too. His four stroke win ahead of Gary Woodland was every bit as impressive as it sounds, and the local crowds will be excited at the prospect of seeing Koepka, who has since then gone on to claim two further major championship wins at August and Bethpage, back in Korea. Despite that impressive win, Koepka arrives in arguably less favourable form than last year. He has only broken into the top thirty once in the last three months (the Tour Championship), and that was in a limited field event. His impressive win at the Bridgestone at TPC Southwind in July was his last victory, and he put in a lacklustre showing on his return two weeks ago when he missed the cut at the Shriners Hospitals Open at Summerlin. At 8/1 in a limited field Koepka can never be ruled out but, at the top of the market, my money would go to Justin Thomas.
Behind these two sits the highest placed Asian player in the field; Japan's Hideki Matsuyama (14/1). Matsuyama made his first appearance in this event last year where he started slowly with rounds of 71 and 74 before closing with two rounds in the 60s over the weekend to finish inside the top 20. The season has been slow for Hideki, although it did see a reasonably strong finish with a 3rd place finish at the BMW followed by a top 10 at the Tour Championship. I wouldn't rule Hideki out of the places, and the price is fair for a player with his calibre of long game, but I don't see him beating both Thomas and Koepka this week, so for me, he isn't a bet.
Jordan Spieth (20/1) and England's Tommy Fleetwood (20/1) sit next in the betting. Spieth is making his first appearance here following nine weeks off after what has been his first winless year on Tour. Hopefully during that time he has been working on his driving which has been the sole reason for the decline in performance of such a fantastic iron player and putter. What this week holds for Spieth is unknown, as largely is the next 12 months for him. I would love to see him back in the winners circle, but so much depends on that long game. Particularly on a penal course like Nine Bridges. Fleetwood also makes his first appearance here, and has recently been producing some solid results on the European Tour having made it the whole way in the FedEx Cup. Tommy's confidence must be sky high, and after top 13 finishes in four of his last five events, I expect him to be near the top of the leaderboard again this week.
Rob’s Golf Betting Tips
Headline Betting Tip
Justin Thomas is a greens in regulation machine, having placed in the top five of players that played over fifteen events in each of the past three seasons. That will sit him in good stead here. Off the tee Thomas is very solid, not only hitting nearly 70% of fairways, but being able to position the ball exactly where he needs to. That will be a big help to him this week as he will have the edge on attacking the well guarded putting surfaces. On a similarly tree lined course with significant doglegs at Riviera for the Genesis Open earlier in the year, Thomas blew the field away before a highly out of character final round 75 saw him fade away and be passed by J.B Holmes.
Justin picked up this title two years ago on his inaugural visit to Nine Bridges, beating Australian Marc Leishman in a playoff. Last year he followed that up with a more disappointing 36th place after three opening rounds in the 70s saw him never really contend, although a closing 68 was once again a sign of what he can do here. In a limited field, and with a big gap between the front two in the market and the rest, I think the value in backing Thomas is to go for the win and have 5 points win at 7/1.
Other Betting Tips
Another of the market leaders that I feel could go well this week is Jordan Spieth. It's a big leap of faith to back a player that has been so out of form as Spieth, particularly on a course that can be so punishing of bad tee shots, but Jordan has undeniable class, and there is so much to like about him at Nine Bridges if he has managed to improve his driving over the past couple of months.
Last season Spieth ranked outside the top 150 on strokes gained off the tee, but again topped the putting stats. What he also has over the majority of this field is the exceptional ability to control the distance of his shots into the greens, and on smooth bentgrass surfaces such as those in Asia, Spieth should already have a leap on the field. It's a risk and reward pick, but on this tricky Asian style set up I really like Spiethq and will be having 2 points e/w at 20/1.
The third and final selection in this limited field event is Spain's Sergio Garcia. Over the years Sergio is a player that I've largely avoided outside of tournaments in his home country, or the odd major championship. Undoubtedly one of the best ball strikers of his generation, it is hard to believe that it is twenty years since he went toe to toe with Tiger Woods at the 1999 USPGA in Chicago and announced himself onto the World stage. Much has passed since that time, and the past 12 months has seen a fantastic resurgence in Garcia; a player with strong pedigree in Asia.
Over recent weeks, Garcia has been playing great golf. He won the KLM Open at the International Course in the Netherlands four weeks ago, and followed that with another top 10 at the Spanish Open. Sergio is one of the best drivers of the ball, in the same class as Thomas, and will be able to set up a lot of birdie chances this week if his iron game is on. The putting has been Garcia's traditional nemesis, but he has shown in recent weeks with scores of eighteen and twelve under par (including a final round six under 66 in Spain) that he is back into the groove of making birdies.
Of his thirty five career wins, seven have come in Asia; most recently at last year's Singapore Open where he posted fourteen under for an easy five shot win. Conditions that week were similar to here, and with a similar projected winning score, and his strong form, I fancy Sergio to contend here. I will be having 2 points e/w at 28/1.
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*All odds from Bet UK’s online betting markets correct at the time of writing.
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