This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
THE CJ CUP AT NINE BRIDGES
The Club at Nine Bridges (7,196 yards, par 72)
$1,710,000 and 500 FedEx Cup points to the winner
Following a wildly successful President's Cup three years ago in South Korea, the PGA Tour added the CJ Cup to the schedule, and The Club at Nine Bridges is ready to repeat as host after its debut last season. The course is South Korea's only track ranked in the world's top 100, so it was natural for the Tour to set up shop for at least a few years. Four players from last year's top 10 in the FedExCup ranks will tee it up this week, as the 78-player field is comprised of the best 60 finishers from last season's FedEx Cup rankings who elected to play, along with 18 other slots stemming from the Korean Tour, Asian Tour, or sponsor's exemptions. As the midway point of the Asian swing, look for plenty of solid primetime action in the U.S. as the new wraparound season gets underway.
Recent Past Champions
2017 – Justin Thomas
Key Stats to Victory
• Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green
• Greens in Regulation
The course features spectacular sights of Mount Halla, a double green shared by two holes on the back nine, and a risk-reward closing par-5 hole with an island green. There are a few longer par-4s and par-3s to make this track a challenge, but now that many players have seen it once, the winning score should improve from the 9-under that was posted last year. The greens are large and sloped, but the differentiator this week will be tee-to-green precision. The field will be more familiar with the greens at Nine Bridges as many of them play here a second time, but this shouldn't dramatically shift the profile away from ball strikers.
FanDuel Value Picks
Justin Thomas, $13100 – As the defending champion after last year's playoff win over Marc Leishman, Thomas for a second-straight week is the favorite on the Asian swing. He finished fifth at the CIMB Classic last week and is no stranger to winning back-to-back in Asia, so stand strong with the overwhelming favorite this week.
Brooks Koepka, $12300 – Making his 2018-19 debut after being crowned Player of the Year, Koepka will look to increase his non-major win total to two. He's one of the few true stars in this field, which bodes well for his chances given four guaranteed cracks at Nine Bridges.
Marc Leishman, $11700 – A win at last week's CIMB Classic means he's in form, while a playoff loss at last year's CJ Cup means he finds comfort in the course. Leishman represents a great value and has a real opportunity to win the first two legs of the Asian swing.
Billy Horschel, $10300 – Horschel was middle-of-the-pack last week at the CIMB Classic, but he hit 75 percent of his fairways and greens, signaling his ball striking is as solid as it was in the FedExCup playoffs. If Horschel can find his putter this week he should also find himself in the mix for a nice finish.
Longer Shots Worth a Risk
Tyrell Hatton, $9600 – One of the better putters on both the European and PGA Tours, Hatton nearly won the Alfred Dunhill Links two weeks ago for a third straight time. Though he's seeing The Club at Nine Bridges for the first time, he's won't be at much of a disadvantage since the course is hosting for only the second time. Expect good things from the Englishman this week.
Chesson Hadley, $8700 – With a tie for second last week and a history of starting well in the wraparound season, the cards are stacked in Hadley's favor despite his low sticker price. Hadley was ninth on Tour last season in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green, so expect plenty of birdie looks for him this week. If he can convert on a good portion of them, he'll find himself on the first page of the leaderboard.
CT Pan, $8600 – Pan posted a runner-up finish in each of the past two seasons on his way to finishing top 100 in the FedExCup ranks, so there's upside for him at this price. Now in his third full year on Tour, Pan will look to reach the next level and would relish a great finish this week.
Sungjae Im, $8400 – Born in Jeju, South Korea, Im will look to parlay his top-5 at the Safeway Open into another great finish in his homeland this week. Should he hit around 75 percent of his greens in regulation like he did a couple weeks ago, Im should have no problem providing value at this price.
Strategy Tips for this week (based on 60k standard salary cap)
With another week featuring a small 78-player field and no cut, there's plenty of freedom for lineup selection. It's prudent to take the top tee-to-green players like Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, and Hideki Matsuyama on the high end and trending players on the low end, but there's no shortage of strategies that are viable in a week like this. Take your best shot and enjoy the early goings of the new season.