RIETVELD: How to enjoy (and perhaps profit from) this week's CJ Cup at Congaree
South Carolinians, I have a deal to offer you. I need you to hit pause on football this weekend, go walk a few miles on the surprisingly hilly patch of land on the fringes of Ridgeland, and make dollar closest-to-the-pin bets with your bestie as we are treated to a show by the best golfers in the world at the CJ Cup in South Carolina at its new home at Congaree Golf Club.
If you do not enjoy the fresh Palmetto State air, the 70-degree weather, the gorgeous sinuous terrain, and the handsome swings of Rory McIlroy, then JJ at LowcoSports will send you a care package.
In all seriousness, the CJ Cup at Congaree Golf Club is a once-in-a-lifetime field and tournament for the Lowcountry of South Carolina. The field is stacked with a variety of golfers that you normally do not see at the tight and feisty Harbour Town Golf Links each spring.
The field includes 21 of the top 30 golfers in the world, including world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler. The President Cup heroes are all here with Justin Thomas, Jordan Speith, and Max Homa walking the fairways of Congaree for the first time along with the latest international sensation and CJ Group brand ambassador, Joo-hyung Kim, better known as Tom.
In June 2021, Congaree hosted the Palmetto Championship, and the tournament and course were well-received by the tour and its players. Here is the thing, though — the course will play much more like legendary course architect Tom Fazio designed it to play than it did on those summer days a year ago. Get ready to hear the phrase, “firm and fast” more times than you hear your 13-year old son say “bro” (or its more sinister brethren, “bruh”) over the next four days.
The sandy base of Congaree Golf Club is dry, drained, and ready to bounce Titleist Pro-Vs into all sorts of unique angles and lies. I won’t go down the design nerdiverse again, you can check out our Palmetto Championship at Cong
aree Golf Club coverage from last year for those details. But I am still going to give you my picks to put on your fantasy teams and what type of golfers to highlight as possible champions.
Oh, quick reminder, I picked the winner of the Palmetto Championship at Congaree — at 55-to-1 odds — nailing Garrick Higgo, a South African who almost no one knew about heading into the tournament.
But first, what in the world is a CJ Cup? The CJ Cup is a no-cut, big-money tour event held every fall. Historically the tournament was held in South Korea, but has bounced around the United States over the past four years. The backing of the tournament is by the CJ Group, a massive conglomerate in South Korea. The diverse mega company has holdings in everything from frozen foods to K-Pop groups to home shopping networks to pharmaceuticals. The CJ Group has been listed in Fortune magazine’s top 50 companies in the world since 2017 and the first Korean company to accomplish that feat. The CJ Group sponsors several PGA Tour players, including the aforementioned Tom Kim, Sungjae Im, Si Woo Kim, KH Lee, and Ben An among others.
Ok, let’s crack some knuckles and look at what a golfer needs to do well to win at Congaree Golf Club.
First, the bombers crushed it at the Palmetto Championship last year. Sure the course will be playing a lot faster, but being a good driver of the golf ball is imperative at this Fazio course. Matt Fitzpatrick is a beast off the tee nowadays and his 10th-place finish in 2021 at the Palmetto Championship surely demands a play.
If driving is important, then no list of contenders can go without this generation’s best driver, which is Rory McIlroy. If you want a big boy name on your card to ride with this week, you can do a lot worse than Rory.
With the closely mown fringes and surrounds protecting the firm Bermuda greens, golfers looking to contend must have their short games dialed in before teeing off on Thursday. Sam Burns is a wizard on Bermuda greens. The Louisiana native can read the grainy grass like few others, but his driver has been temperamental as of late. That said, Burns will definitely be on my team this week.
The wild and fiery Englishman, Tyrrell Hatton’s best club is generally the flat stick. However, last June, he lost over 0.8 shots to the field on the putting surfaces of Congaree Golf Club and finished second. Sign me up! Lord Tyrrell will not lose strokes to the field on the greens this year — he loves Bermuda greens — and if his solid ball-striking continues, he will be in the mix come Sunday.
Reminder, this is a no-cut event so your lineups will have a chance all weekend long, unlike most weeks, and if you are going to the event over the weekend your favorite golfer is guaranteed to be there all four rounds.
Here is the squad I’m rolling with for this week:
• Jordan Spieth +2200 (DK $8800)
• Matt Fitzpatrick +2500 (DK $9800)
• Sam Burns +3000 (DK $9300)
• Tyrrell Hatton +4000 (DK $8500)
• Sepp Straka +7000 (DK $7400)
So have trust that your college team will prevail on Saturday and forget about the terrible NFL games on Sunday and go enjoy this beautiful October weather in the Lowcountry with the PGA Tour’s finest while you can.