Our man takes a look at this week's PGA Tour action in South Korea where he fancies Sung Kang to fare well in his homeland. Read Steve's CJ Cup preview here...
“Kang not only arrives here in form, after finishing third at the CIMB Classic last week, he also has plenty of Korean form to boast and even some Jeju Island form.”
The PGA Tour moves from Malaysia to South Korea this week for the inaugural staging of the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges. It's the second-leg of a three-week Asian Swing on the PGA Tour which culminates with the WGC-HSBC Champions event in China next week.
It's a limited field event with no cut comprising of just 78 players. The top 60 available from last season's FedEx Cup points list, five players from the Korean Professional Golf Association, two from the Asian Tour, a trio of Koreans that qualify because of their world ranking positions (Byeong Hun An, Jeunghun Wang and K.T Kim, and a number of sponsors invites.
Nine Bridges Golf Club, Jeju Island, South Korea.
Par 72, 7,196 yards
Nine Bridges is a resort course situated on Jeju Island in the shadows of Mount Halla. Designed by Ronald Fream and David Dale of Golf Plan, the pineland course, said to be designed to create a Scottish Highlands feel, has generous fairways and bentgrass greens. It's a composite of two distinct nines - the Creek Course (front-nine) and the Highland Course.
It's a while since I've heard such nonsense but there are actually only eight bridges at Nine Bridges, the ninth is metaphorical and said to represent the connection between the club and its members and guests.
Nine Bridges has been the venue for the World Club Championship and it was also used four times by the LPGA between 2002 and 2005.
For more on the course, please the hole descriptions here from the PGA Tour website.
Live on Sky Sports all four days, starting at 03:00 on Thursday morning.
What Will it Take to Win the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges?
We're almost completely in the dark this week with a brand new event on a course we've never seen before but we do know the course is generous and said to be playing soft and that wind is due to blow throughout the week.
Although this venue has never been used before, we have witnessed European Tour action on Jeju Island before and scores varied tremendously depending on the wind. What was formerly the Ballantine's Championship (now defunct) was staged at the Pinx Golf Club between 2008 and 2010 and we saw scores ranging from 24-under-par (Graeme McDowell in 2010) and four-under-par (Thongchai Jaidee in 2011) but whether it was extremely blustery or merely just windy, the best wind exponents came to the fore.
Players that love a low-scoring birdie-fest and that can handle really windy conditions should enjoy this week's test.
Is There an Angle In?
Again, I have to stress that this is largely guesswork, but I thought this venue looked quite similar to the Plantation Course at Kapalua where they stage the Tournament of Champions every January. That too is an easy wind exposed resort course where scores vary greatly depending on the wind.
Form there could be worth something but caution is most certainly advised before the off.
Justin Thomas was a little disappointing when attempting to win the CIMB Classic for a third year in-a-row last week but he could easily bounce back here. He's a winner at Kapalua so if I'm right about the two courses being similar that's a positive.
He's also a winner at the Sony Open in Hawaii where low scores are the norm and where the wind is often a factor and other than last week's lacklustre effort, there are no real negatives. He's very much the worthy favourite.
Paul Casey is an exceptional wind player and he's been playing some sensational golf lately but he's looking to win on the PGA Tour for the first time in eight years and for the umpteenth time, here I am writing that he's too short too back.
Jason Day ended the season nicely and I can see him taking to this venue. He too is a fabulous wind exponent, he loves bentgrass greens and he has a nice bank of form at the aforementioned Kapalua but we have to go back to May last year for his last victory and he looks a shade short to me.
I've had a small saver on Justin Thomas because I think he's a fraction too big at almost twice the price he was last week and I've also had a small each-way double with him and Sergio Garcia in the Andalucía Valderrama Masters but the one I quite like here is Jeju Islander, Sung Kang.
Kang not only arrives here in form, after finishing third at the CIMB Classic last week, he also has plenty of Korean form to boast and even some Jeju Island form.
Twice a winner in his homeland, in the CJ Invitational and the Korea Open, Kang was beaten by Jaidee in extra time in the aforementioned Ballantine's as a rank outsider when the weather was absolutely foul.
Home advantage is often overstated but I thought Kang was worth a modest investment at [60.0] and I've also thrown a few pounds at three-time European Tour winner, Jeunghun Wang, who is another that won't mind how hard the wind blows.
Sergio Garcia and Justin Thomas
I'll be back on Thursday or Friday with the In-Play Blog.
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