CJ Cup picks: 4 wagers our betting expert loves this week

Rory McIlroy is looking to defend his title at the 2022 CJ Cup this week.

Getty Images

After dueling down the stretch on Sunday in Japan, Keegan Bradley and fan-favorite Rickie Fowler will be back on U.S. soil this week. But neither ranks among the betting favorites at the CJ Cup at Congaree Golf Club in South Carolina, where the limited 78-man field will feature 15 of the top-20 players in the world.

Rory McIlroy will be out to defend his title against the likes of Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and Max Homa. Given the no-cut format, the weekend is all but guaranteed to bring some big names into the mix.

Jon Rahm, Joel Dahmen and Harry Higgs at the WM Phoenix Open, Jordan Spieth at the Travelers Championship, Jay Monahan and Keith Pelley (clockwise from top left).
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But which stars deserve your wagers? For advice in that department, we turn to Andy Lack. As he does each week, GOLF.com’s expert prognosticator has crunched the numbers to come up with his four favorite plays. They’re listed below, along with the reasoning behind them.

Lack is a pro. But because we like to know where public opinion is leaning, too, we’re also including data from Chirp.com, a free-to-play mobile platform that gives fans a range of ways to engage with the action. You can see that information at the bottom of this page.

Andy Lack’s Expert Picks

Outright Pick to Win: Justin Thomas (+1600)

(Odds available on DraftKings)

It’s hard to believe that Thomas’ only two victories in the past 24 months have come at the Players and PGA Championship. Early in his career, the World No. 7 feasted in the slow season, with nine of his 15 career PGA Tour wins coming between the months of September and February. I expect the 28-year-old to pick up win number 16 this week in South Carolina. Both of Thomas’ PGA Championship wins have come on courses with slick Bermuda greens framed by deep bunkers and expansive short grass, and Tom Fazio-designed Congaree fits that bill to a tee. At an elementary level, the three boxes that I am looking for my players to check this week are distance off the tee, long iron play, and the ability to gain strokes around the green on firm golf courses, and Thomas passes that test with flying colors. 

Justin Thomas watches a tee shot during the third day of the Presidents Cup. getty images

Top 10: Cameron Young (+250)

(Odds available on DraftKings)

After Will Zalatoris broke through in August at the FedEx St. Jude Championship, it’s hardly a hot take to suggest that Young is the best player on Tour without an official win. The Wake Forest product has already experienced loads of success on driver-heavy golf courses with nuanced green complexes, including Southern Hills and St. Andrews. Congaree is another course that will allow him to accentuate his elite play off the tee. Coming off a ho-hum 53rd at the Zozo Championship, Young is coming in at a discount price this week.

Top 40: Gary Woodland (-110)

(Odds available on FanDuel)

The top-40 market always presents some challenges in a limited-field event, but Woodland as a coin flip to beat only 50 percent of his competition feels far too cheap. The former U.S. Open champion remains one of the longer players in this field, and we want Woodland on courses where he has a long iron in his hands as much as possible. The 36-year-old ranks top-six in this field in long-term proximity from 200-yards plus, which should serve him well on a course with two long par-3s, five par-4s over 475 yards and three reachable par-5s. 

Matchup: Aaron Wise (-110) over Taylor Montgomery

(Odds available on DraftKings)

Wise has been a mainstay in this column over the past couple of months, and I continue to believe that he is on the precipice of his second career win. While I love the 26-year-old in all markets this week, this matchup against Taylor Montgomery is my preferred action. A recent Korn Ferry Tour graduate, Montgomery continues to be over-valued based on an extremely hot putter.

Rory McIroy hits drive during 2022 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship
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He has gained a whopping 21.2 strokes putting in his last three events, while losing a combined 2.1 strokes on approach over that same time span. That magic from the flatstick is far from sustainable. We are due to see regression. Wise has proven to be a far superior ball-striker, and he is now traveling to a course that fits his game to a tee. The former Byron Nelson winner boasts an immaculate track record (18th, 9th, and 2nd) at Quail Hollow, another long, firm, driver-heavy Tom Fazio course with slick Bermuda greens, and he also finished fifth last year, when the CJ Cup was hosted at another Fazio design, Summit Club, in Las Vegas. All of which makes Wise a wise play this week.

Chirp Data

The Trifecta game, on Chirp, calls for fans to pick three winners: a favorite, a contender and a long shot, all categories based on the Official World Golf Ranking. Hundreds have Chirp users have already made their plays this week. Here’s a look at the top vote getters in each category, along with the percentage of support that they’ve received, listed in parentheses. To get in on the fun, sign up to Chirp for free here.

Favorite

Rory McIlroy (37.74 percent)
Scottie Scheffler (16.77 percent)
Jon Rahm (11.61 percent)

Contender

Shane Lowry (21.61 percent)
Kevin Kisner (14.52 percent)
Tommy Fleetwood (14.19 percent)

Longshot

Si Woo Kim (21.94 percent)
Rickie Fowler (15.16 percent)
Sebastian Munoz (10.65 percent)

Josh Sens

Golf.com Contributor

A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes across all of GOLF’s platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Having Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.