Gearing up for the next stop on the PGA Tour, this week we have the CJ Cup, which will take place at Congaree Golf Club for the first time. Head-to-head matchup bets are an excellent way to make a profit and eliminate the randomness that comes with betting outright winners. Looking at the available market, who has an edge this week?
Location: Ridgeland, South Carolina
Course: Congaree Golf Club
Designer: Tom Fazio
Par 71; 7,655 yards
Tom Fazio designed the course in 2017. The only time it hosted a PGA Tour event was the Palmetto Championship in 2021. In Fazio's own words, this course "plays very firm and fast." This course was built with Australian sand belt courses and European links courses in mind.
This will be a 78-man no-cut event featuring 15 of the top 20 golfers in the world. Congaree is a long course that will test driving ability and long irons. The fairways are wide, but there is sand everywhere. Wayward tee shots can dash quickly on the ground into bunkers anytime.
- Strokes Gained Off the Tee
- Driving Distance
- Strokes Gained Around the Green
- Strokes Gained Putting (Bermuda grass)
- Lag Putting
- Long iron play (Approaches from > 200 yards)
- Scrambling from the sand
- Proximity to the hole from the sand
Christiaan Bezuidenhout Over Keegan Bradley (+105 DraftKings)
This bet combines feeling good about Bezuidenhout's chances and fading Bradley this week.
Bradley is coming off a huge win last week at the Zozo Championship. It was his first PGA Tour victory since he won the BMW Championship in the 2017-18 season. It was great for our wallets because we were on him as an outright winner. That said, he looked extremely nervous down the stretch and nearly blew it on the back nine of the final round.
As animated and emotional as Bradley was once he sunk his final putt and locked it up, I'd imagine there's a hangover effect this week at the CJ Cup, not to mention the travel from Japan to South Carolina and the potential jet lag. Expecting him to duplicate last week's performance on a quick turnaround is a tall task.
As for Bezuidenhout, we saw him play well at the Presidents Cup. Quail Hollow Club was the host course for that event. Tom Fazio oversaw the reworkings of that course in the 1990s. This year's CJ Cup will take place at a course Fazio designed in 2017, the Congaree Golf Club. Bezuidenhout didn't lose either of his two matches at the Presidents Cup.
Furthermore, his putter was cooking last year. It's let him down a little in the new season so far. Still, over the last 24 rounds, he's fourth in this field in Strokes Gained Around the Green. He finished last season tied for first with Shane Lowry in proximity to the hole from the sand, which could be a factor this week. Congaree is a course with a lot of sand hazards and deep bunkers. Being good in that part of the game could be critical.
Shane Lowry Over Max Homa (+115 DraftKings)
This is a tough one. There aren't a lot of reasons to dislike Homa this week. However, the probability of Lowry beating him doesn't match the betting odds discrepancy. I don't believe Homa should be a -140 favorite over Lowry, given each golfer's profile and fit for this course.
Homa's Tour victory at the Fortinet Championship stands out for those of you comparing recent form. However, Lowry won the BMW PGA Championship on the DP World Tour in Surrey, England, about a month ago. He defeated Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm by one stroke.
Lowry was one of the better lag putters last season. Homa was also above average, but Lowry beat him out in proximity to the hole from the sand. As previously mentioned, Lowry was tied for first with Bezuidenhout. Since I'm building my betting card believing that this area will prove vital, give me the guy who does it better.
Also, the last time this course hosted a PGA Tour event, we saw a lot of long approach shots. Lowry ranked first last season in approaches from > 200 yards.
Emiliano Grillo Over Maverick McNealy (+100 DraftKings)
We don't have previous stats from either golfer on this course. Neither has played an event here. However, we do know who is coming in with a better form, and that's Grillo. Somehow, the Grill Master has figured out the flat stick. He's gained strokes putting in each of his last eight tracked events.
We also don't have a ton of data to dissect from the Zozo Championship in Japan last week. McNealy finished T12 after a T10 at the Shriners Children's Open. It sounds good, right? The thing is, his metrics look bad pretty much all the way around. The putter has been his saving grace.
I'm targeting guys with strong putters this week, but it's not something I want to rely on. Grillo is the superior ball striker, and when he's at his best, he's hitting a bunch of greens in regulation. Grillo's recent form is undeniable, with two top-five finishes and a T25 already in the fall swing season. His ability to do damage again this week gives him the edge over McNealy. McNealy also putts worse on Bermuda, so I'm not sure how much we can rely on that part of his game this week.