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PGA Tour


Welcome to the Asian Swing. The PGA TOUR will spend the next three weeks in Asia, starting with this week’s THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES in Korea (followed by tournaments in Japan and China). In case you were wondering: South Korea is 13 hours ahead for those on the East Coast, so you’ll have plenty of late-night golf to follow. RELATED: Tee times | How to watch THE FLYOVER The 568-yard par-5 18th is one of the most unique holes on the PGA TOUR, with twin distinct ways to reach the green – a risk and reward approach on the left and a safer but three-shot approach to the right. Click here for more on the 18th. If you’re behind by a couple of shots … well, the choice of attack seems fairly easy to make. WEATHER CHECK The weather at Jeju Island should be pleasant all week, although a 50% chance of rain exists for Friday’s second round. Humidity will also be highest on that day. Winds will be manageable, reaching 12 mph in the first two rounds. For the latest weather news from JeJu Island, South Korea, check out PGATOUR.COM’s Weather Hub. SOUND CHECK CJ just puts on an unbelievable event. The food is incredible, the golf course is awesome, you get a great amount of fans that come out and watch and support. … I feel like this has been a great addition to the PGA TOUR schedule. By the numbers 16 – Players from South Korea who are in the field this week. 29 – Brooks Koepka’s back-nine score (7 under) in his final-round 64 last year en route to winning. 8 – PGA TOUR wins by K.J. Choi, making him the winningest South Korean player on TOUR. Scattershots Big hitters course: With Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka as the two winners in this event, it’s evident the Nine Bridges course favors big hitters. “I think length is a huge advantage here; obviously you've seen that with Justin Thomas winning, Brooks Koepka winning,” said another one of the TOUR’s big hitters, Gary Woodland, who was runner-up to Koepka last year. “If you hit the golf ball a long way, it's a huge advantage, but you have to drive the golf ball in the fairway to attack some of these -- there's some big greens out there where they can get some tight pins. So playing from the fairway is a premium, and then the biggest challenge out here is the weather. If the wind's blowing, this golf course becomes extremely tough.” Seeking a pick: Several players in consideration for a captain’s pick for the Presidents Cup in December are playing this week, including American hopeful Jordan Spieth, who is making his tournament debuts this week. Spieth would like to regain the form that has allowed him to become a mainstay in recent team competitions. “My goals are pretty personal right now,” Spieth said. “So I certainly want to get back in the winner's circle, it's been a little while, and I would like to be more consistent this year, being able to tee it up on Sundays with chances to win more consistently and that comes from better ball-striking.” JT in Asia: Of his 10 career victories, Justin Thomas has won three times during the Asian Swing, including his first two career wins in the CIMB Classic. “Asia definitely got the start of my career going and I have a lot of great memories and I've learned a lot,” Thomas said. “There's a lot of times when I'm coming down the stretch in tournaments, I'm able to look back on these events knowing that I've done well. So it's a very special place. I've always enjoyed coming here. Everybody treats me and everybody else so well, so that's very enjoyable. Hopefully we'll be able to create some more memories.”


16 Oct 2019

Phil Mickelson on Presidents Cup: ‘I have not done enough to warrant a pick’

Phil Mickelson increased his fall schedule in order to audition for one of Tiger Woods’ captain’s picks. Mickelson doesn’t expect to add Australia to his itinerary after poor finishes in his first two starts of the season, though. “Even if I were to win, I have not done enough to warrant a pick,” Mickelson said Wednesday in his pre-tournament press conference for THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES. “I’m not asking for one. I don’t expect one. I think there’s a lot better options for the U.S. side.” RELATED: Meet the top 8: U.S. team | Three Presidents Cup vets start the fall on the outside looking in Mickelson, 49, has represented the United States in every team competition since the inaugural Presidents Cup in 1994. That streak appears to be nearing its conclusion. Mickelson finished 16th in the United States’ points standings. The top eight after the BMW Championship earned automatic spots on the team. Mickelson is playing in South Korea for the first time since the United States’ win at the 2015 Presidents Cup, where he went 3-0-1. Mickelson has never competed on The Club at Nine Bridges, but he’s enjoyed what he’s seen. He played a practice round with Kevin Na to learn more about the course. “What I like is there is plenty of room off the tee for me to play,” Mickelson said. “(The greens) are huge but with a lot of undulation. … Iron play, which is my strength, is very important.” Mickelson is making his third start of the season. He missed the cut at the Safeway Open and finished 61st at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. His season debut was marred by a quadruple-bogey 9 on his fifth hole. He missed the cut by two after shooting a second-round 69. Mickelson opened the Shriners with a first-round 65, but was just 3 under in the remaining three rounds. He finished 47th in last season’s FedExCup, marking the fourth time in the last six seasons that he missed the TOUR Championship. It was his worst FedExCup showing since 2015. Mickelson started the calendar year with a first-round 60 at the Desert Classic. He finished second to Adam Long, then won two starts later at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Mickelson has had just one top-25 finish since, though. Mickelson, ever the optimist, still feels like he can play well in 2020. He turns 50 in June. “I am starting to play much better and I’m excited about this upcoming season,” he said.


16 Oct 2019

Finishing hole at THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES a split decision

A small wooden bridge at the base of this week’s trophy on the PGA TOUR symbolizes the bridge to the 18th hole at Jeju Island’s most famous golf course. That’s appropriate, because if you want to win THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES, the last bridge is arguably the most important to cross in style. “It’s bizarre,” Justin Thomas said of the 568-yard, par-5 finisher, which features two fairways separated by trees and native area, and ends at a green surrounded by sand, rough and water. “The wind changes it a lot.” RELATED: Tee times | Who's comfortable at NINE BRIDGES | Power Rankings Nine Bridges is a 7,241-yard, par 72 with four par 5s. It features black-rock outcroppings and volcano views and is sometimes compared to Maui, but the real dazzler is the 18th, one of the wildest holes on TOUR. For starters, it’s basically two holes in one. The aggressive line at the signature hole is to carry the two pot bunkers on the left to reach the lower landing zone, giving yourself the shortest distance to reach the green in two. Thomas got there with only a pitching wedge in 2017. But only with the wind at your back is it even possible to reach that left fairway from the tee. Wind, the X factor at Jeju, demands a different approach. Literally. Into the wind, the target is the right fairway – it’s easier to reach, but leaves a much longer second shot with anything from a long iron to a 3-wood. Often, the prudent play from the right fairway is to not even go for the green in two. “When it’s into the wind, I mean, I don’t go for that left fairway,” said Thomas, who won the inaugural CJ CUP two years ago. “I hit 3-wood up top (to the right), and if I can go for it, I do. It’s very, very weird lay up if you have to lay up. “It’s a funky finishing hole, but it can provide for some fireworks if it’s close.” Simply put, the hole rewards length. “It’s a big advantage for a long hitter if he’s coming to the 18th needing a birdie,” said Adam Scott, who played it in 3 under last year but isn’t in the field this time around. Abraham Ancer calls the hole “unique,” while both Gary Woodland, last year’s runner-up to Brooks Koepka, and Marc Leishman go so far as to call it “a great risk-reward hole.” This, despite the fact that Leishman splashed his second shot in the water on 18 to lose to Thomas on the second playoff hole two years ago. The 18th gave up 25 eagles and 123 birdies last year, and was the second easiest on the course with a 4.58 stroke average. There were also 27 bogeys, four doubles, and two “others.” The wind dictates everything. David Dale of Golfplan Dale & Ramsey Golf Course Architects, in Santa Rosa, California, said he designed the hole to give players an option off the tee, but didn’t foresee the day when someone would play it driver, wedge, putt. “It was heroic to reach in two, but not anymore for the pros,” Dale said. “The way the hole plays now, it’s on its knees begging for wind.” If he’d known how technology would change the game, he added, he would have added another 25-30 yards and crowned the green slightly to repel shots. When Koepka eagled 18 to shoot 64 and win by four last year, it was his second eagle of the week on the hole as he played it in 5 under. But it was Thomas’ opening-round drive in 2017 that first opened eyes. “He can throw it on with that drive,” Rich Lerner said on the Golf Channel telecast. “He took it over everything,” Frank Nobillo added, not bothering to hide his awe. “You’ve gotta see this hole to believe where that drive went.” Thomas hit wedge to the green on the way to an eagle, completing a 29 on his first nine – the back – as he stormed out of the gate with a 63. Then things got hard. He bogeyed the hole the next day, and by the last day, the wind had switched 180 degrees and howled into the players’ faces. Forced to go down the right fairway, he and Leishman scratched out pars on the first extra playing of 18. On the second, Thomas had 243 yards to the green in two, and hit an epic 3-wood to the front collar. Leishman tried a similar shot and found the water. “I wouldn’t really call it a split fairway because it’s not like you have the option every time you play,” Thomas said. “It’s like 320 to that (left) fairway. If it’s downwind, I’d say 90% of the guys are hitting it left, but if it’s into the wind, 10% are hitting it left.” Added Leishman: “It gets pretty windy there, and a lot of the time you can’t even think about going left. If you have to go right, it’s actually a pretty tough tee shot. And it obviously makes the second shot a lot longer; you’ve got to hit a really good shot to get on the green in two.” He paused, rethinking the comment. “Two really good shots, actually,” he said.


16 Oct 2019

Wyndham Rewards Top 10 preview: THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES

The Wyndham Reward Top 10 is a season-long competition that offers a $10 million bonus for the 10 golfers who end the regular season at the Wyndham Championship inside the top 10 in FedExCup points. The player atop the standings will earn $2 million, with varying payoffs for the others through $500,000 for the 10th place finisher. This week: The CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES Current Top 10 in field 4. Kevin Na 5. Joaquin Niemann 8. Sungjae Im No. 1 watch: Lanto Griffin moved to the top of the Wyndham Rewards Top 10 standings by virture of his win at the Houston Open. Griffin replaced Sebastián Muñoz, who had been atop the standings for three weeks. Munoz dropped to No. 2. Top 10 moves: Two players moved inside the Wyndham Rewards Top 10 by virtue of their results at last week’s Houston Open. Griffin moved from 11 to 1, while Mark Hubbard moved from 25 to 7 thanks to his T2 finish. Only one player dropped out of the top 10, though – Brian Harman, who went from 10 to 15. Two players are now tied at 10th – Patrick Cantlay and Tom Hoge, each with 315 points. Scenarios notes • Just three players in this week’s field have a chance to end the week No. 1 in the standings by winning the CJ CUP and claiming the 500 FedExCup points – Na, Niemann and Im. • A total of 35 players in the field will be seeking their first FedExCup points of the season. A win by any player will likely leave them at No. 6 in the Wyndham Rewards Top 10 standings. • Defending Wyndham Rewards Top 10 champ Brooks Koepka is among those 35 players still seeking his first point. Koepka missed the cut in his first start this season at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.


16 Oct 2019

THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES, Round 1: Leaderboard, tee times, TV times

Round 1 of THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES gets underway today. Here's everything you need to follow the action. Round 1 leaderboard Round 1 tee times HOW TO FOLLOW Television: Wednesday-Saturday (ending Sunday), 10 p.m.-2 a.m. ET (Golf Channel). PGA TOUR LIVE: None. Radio: None. NOTABLE PAIRINGS (ALL TIMES LOCAL) Justin Thomas, Phil Mickelson, Marc Leishman Thursday: 8:20 a.m. (No. 10); Friday: 9:20 a.m. (No. 1) Gary Woodland, Jason Day, Sungjae Im Thursday: 9:20 a.m. (No. 1); Friday: 8:10 a.m. (No. 10) Jordan Spieth, Sergio Garcia, Tommy Fleetwood Thursday: 8:30 a.m. (No. 10); Friday: 9:30 a.m. (No. 1) Brooks Koepka, Hideki Matsuyama, Si Woo Kim Thursday: 9:30 a.m. (No. 1); Friday: 8:20 a.m. (No. 10) MUST READS Power Rankings Insider: Finishing hole a split decision Expert Picks The First Look: News and notes Sleeper Picks Top 10 rookies to watch What to expect during the fall schedule Sign-up and play Fantasy Golf


16 Oct 2019

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