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  • Brian Rietveld

Unlikely duo atop crowded leaderboard at CJ Cup

On a beautiful Lowcountry October day, the best of the best on the PGA Tour took to Congaree Golf Club in Ridgeland, and two surprises stood atop the loaded CJ Cup leaderboard. After round one, Trey Mullinax and Gary Woodland are the leaders at 6-under par, one shot ahead of a group of half a dozen golfers headlined by Rory McIlroy.


Mullinax was the first to card a 65 on Thursday with seven birdies and one lone bogey. Woodland finished later on in the afternoon with two bogeys that were trumped by an eyebrow-raising eight birdies, including birdies on the final two holes. Neither Mullinax nor Woodland came to the CJ Cup in top form — Mullinax missed the cut in his last two tournaments of the season and Woodland is coming off a WD and a missed cut in his previous two tournaments — but both golfers cruised to the top of the leaderboard after 18 holes by gaining more than three shots tee-to-green.

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Lurking just a stroke behind are six golfers at 5-under, including the face of the PGA Tour and reigning champion Rory McIlroy, who gained nearly four shots tee-to-green. McIlroy seems destined to be in the mix over the weekend and Data Golf gives the Northern Irishman a 24 percent chance to take home the CJ Cup.


Adam Wise is also among the logjam at -5, and he surprisingly has the second-best odds to win, per Data Golf, at 7.3 percent. Wise led the field in shots gained tee-to-green, gaining a whopping 4.92 shots on the all-star field. Tom Kim also continued his stellar play with a 5-under 66 and is in contention to win his third tournament in his last six outings. Though Kim is not one of the longest drivers in the field, he still gained 2.8 shots tee-to-green, with his lone bogey coming on the funky 18th hole.


On the flipside, RBC Heritage champion, Jordan Speith’s round went off-the-rails early with a triple-bogey 7 on the sixth hole and a lackadaisical backhanded missed tap-in putt that led to a bogey on the 16th hole. The rollercoaster ride that is Speith lost more than two shots on the Congaree Golf Club’s Bermuda greens but fired up the thin, but energetic crowd at the closing 18th hole by draining a 22-foot birdie putt to cap off a frustrating day for the Texan.


The weather forecast is calling for shorts and quarter-zips all weekend — perfect for both the golfers and the spectators. Do not be surprised to see the staff at Congaree Golf Club crank up the distance and firmness as the CJ Cup heads into the weekend. The tour is itching to highlight the architecture and uniqueness of the course, and with no moisture in the forecast, expect the golf balls to be bouncing over the weekend.


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