CJ Cup Preview, Picks & Analysis
Justin Thomas heads a star-studded cast as he defends his title at the CJ Cup. Joining him in the field will be FedExCup champion Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, and Rory McIlroy. They will be joined by Tommy Fleetwood, Rickie Fowler, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose and Jordan Spieth at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, Nevada. Fleetwood, Rose and Poulter will be flying in after competing at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
This tournament has become something of a personal benefit for Thomas, having won it twice. This will be the fourth playing - Brooks Koepka won the other staging of the event.
Johnson, a 23-time PGA TOUR winner, produced an amazing run of form over a five-week stretch to claim his first FedExCup title last month. The big-hitting American won the Northern Trust and Tour Championship, as well as finishing second at both the US PGA and BMW Championship as he landed the FedEx Cup and a cool $15m. The 2020 PGA Tour Player of the Year also won the Travelers Championship in June and finished tied sixth at the US Open and will be playing in the CJ Cup for the first time.
He said: “I’m looking forward to playing in the CJ Cup. My game has been really good recently, so I am excited to play both tournaments. I was excited to hear that the CJ Cup will be played at Shadow Creek, where I have played some good golf in the past. It’s a really good golf course and should be a great venue for the tournament.”
(The Man to Beat)
McIlroy is desperately seeking a return to the form he was enjoying before the lockdown. He enjoyed one victory and seven top-10s to finish tied eighth in the FedExCup but struggled to find his best form until finally showing some flashes of it in the US Open at Winged Foot. He claimed his 18th PGA Tour victory at the WGC-HSBC Champions in China last November where he defeated Xander Schauffele in a playoff. It will be his first appearance in the CJ Cup.
McIlroy said: "I’ve watched how the tournament has become a success over the past few years and it’ll be exciting to have the opportunity to compete in it for the first time.”
(Rory McIlroy Ready for a Big Finish to 2020)
Rahm won twice last season, at The Memorial Tournament and the BMW Championship, and finished fourth in FedExCup standings. The five-time PGA Tour winner also enjoyed four other top-10s, which saw him reach World No. 1 for the first time in June. Currently ranked second in the world, his victory at the BMW Championship was courtesy of an amazing 66-foot birdie putt in a playoff against Johnson.
Fowler is a five-time PGA Tour winner, highlighted by a popular victory in the TOUR’s flagship tournament, The Players Championship in 2015. He has also won three times internationally, including his first professional win at the Kolon Korea Open in 2011 where he won by six shots over Rory McIlroy. In 14 starts during the 2019-20 PGA TOUR Season, Fowler secured two top-10 finishes and was a member of the winning U.S. Team at the 2019 Presidents Cup hosted at Royal Melbourne. But it was a season he will want to forget.
(Jordan Spieth Desperate to Recapture Form)
A winner of three PGA TOUR titles, Poulter recorded one top-10 and five top-25s last season, which included a T16 finish at the CJ Cup. He also finished T10 and T15 in 2018 and 2017, respectively. The Englishman has 12 European Tour wins and is renowned for his Ryder Cup heroics where he has been on five winning European Teams since making his debut in 2004.
Rose won the FedEx Cup in 2018 and reached number one in the world rankings. He has won 10 times on the PGA Tour but finished 91st in the FedEx Cup standings last season and is desperately looking to rediscover his best form. The same applies to Spieth. A winner of 11 PGA Tour titles, he holds three major victories at The Masters and US Open in 2015, and The Open Championship in 2017. Incredibly, that was the last time he won anywhere.
The tournament will feature a 78-man field and boasts a prize fund of $9.75m.
Justin Thomas. Loves this event
Dustin Johnson. Loves ANY event
Jon Rahm. Wants world No1 spot back
Justin Thomas. Has no weaknesses
Dustin Johnson. A winning machine
Jon Rahm. Would love another win before Augusta
Rory McIlroy. More than anybody else in the field, Rory needs to win again - and soon
Tommy Fleetwood. Back to his best
Rickie Fowler. Encouraging signs that swing changes are beginning to work
Ian Poulter. Will be there or thereabouts
Justin Rose. Says his best game is just around the corner
Jordan Spieth. His peers would love to see him win again - as would his fans
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