Sungjae Im carded five straight birdies on holes 9-13 to shoot 62 on Sunday and win the Shriners Children’s Open by four strokes over Matthew Wolff, who was tipped in this column last week. Im, 23, won his first PGA Tour event in his 50th start (Honda Classic) and won his second at the Shriners in his 100th start at 28/1. He will be part of a 78-player limited field this week in the CJ Cup at a price of 30/1.
The CJ Cup’s $9.75 million prize fund plus a trip to Las Vegas has enticed an elite field. Dustin Johnson (12/1), two-time CJ Cup champion Justin Thomas (12/1) and 2020 CJ Cup runner-up Xander Schauffele (14/1) return to competition for the first time since being part of the victorious USA Ryder Cup team three weeks ago. Collin Morikawa (14/1) was another player on that team and is also a member of The Summit Club, which hosts this week’s event. Rory McIlroy (18/1) and Jordan Spieth (22/1) follow on the odds board. In all, 24 of the top 30 players in the OWGR (Official World Golf Rankings) are in the field including the defending champion Jason Kokrak (40/1), who won last year at Shadow Creek.
Here are some players who are worth a wager this weekend:
Collin Morikawa (14/1)
As a member at The Summit Club, Morikawa uses it as a regular practice facility. While he has yet to find the tournament form that he had in the summer when he became the Champion Golfer of the Year at Royal St. Georges, Morikawa played his four matches at 18-under par in just 66 holes. He was the best of the 24 players at the Ryder Cup with a 39 percent Birdie or Better conversion rate.
Viktor Hovland (25/1)
Ranked fifth for SG: Off-The-Tee and 15th in SG: Approach on the PGA Tour last season. He ranked first in the field in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (+5.4) and eighth in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach (+5.3) last week at the Shriners. Unlike all the players ahead of him on the odds board, except Sam Burns (T-14 last week), Hovland is playing back-to-back in Las Vegas. He was just 44th at TPC Summerlin due to a tough week around the greens (-8.9 shots).
Tyrrell Hatton (40/1)
After a tough Ryder Cup, although his 1-2-1 record was better than most on the team, Hatton went back to Europe and finished runner-up at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Five of his six career worldwide wins have come in October or November, so he can get hot this time of year.
Talor Gooch (50/1)
Has gotten off to a terrific start in the fall series with a T-4 at Silverado four weeks ago and a T-11 last week at the Shriners, where he was third for SG: Around the Green, fourth for SG: Approach, and fourth for SG: Tee-To-Green.
Maverick McNealy (66/1)
Is another member and resident at The Summit Club. He also holds the purported course record here at 61. He started his 2021-22 season with a T-2 at the Fortinet Championship in Napa Valley. Although he missed the cut on the number last week, McNealy is still in good form and this track seems to be a much better fit for him.
Harold Varner III (80/1)
Let’s walk down “Narrative Street” here. HV3 missed the event last week at TPC Summerlin because he and wife Amanda were welcoming HV4 (Harold Liam Varner IV) into the world. Varner also does carry solid form into this week with five finishes of 16th or better in his last six events.