In this Aug. 25, 2019 photo, Brooks Koepka hits from the second tee during the final round of the Tour Championship golf tournament at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.
In this Aug. 25, 2019 photo, Brooks Koepka hits from the second tee during the final round of the Tour Championship golf tournament at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.|John Bazemore | Associated Press

Golf: Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas are Vegas favorites for the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges, but Mike Kern picks others to win

Mike Kern

Mike Kern

We gave it a good effort last week, we really did, even though favorite Henrik Stenson, at 9-1, missed the cut. Now you know why I try to avoid chalk whenever possible. But my two 50-1 longshots, Harris English and Beau Hossler, finished tied for fourth and 11th, respectively. I hope you at least had English to end up in the top five or 10. That’s why you sometimes hedge, especially when you’re trying to hit on someone who goes off at that high of a number.

Anyway, it’s on to the third CJ Cup at Nine Bridges from South Korea, the opening event of the PGA Tour’s three-tournament Asian swing that will also take it to Japan and China. This is a 78-man field which includes most of the guys who ended last season in the Top 60 in the FedEx Cup standings. But no, Rory McIlroy isn’t one of them.

The co-favorites, to no one’s surprise, are defending champion Brooks Koepka and 2017 winner Justin Thomas. They’re both around 8-1. Brooks didn’t look good in his 2019-20 debut, but Thomas did win the BMW Championship some two months back.

If I was going to play one of these guys, and I’m probably not, it would be Thomas. There will be plenty of time to get on Keopka, most likely in a major.

Hideki Matsuyama, who has won two similar no-cut World Golf Championship events, is 16-1. Tommy Fleetwood, who hasn’t been seen much lately, is 18-1. Viktor Holland is 20-1. Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, who’s making his seasonal debut, Marc Leischman, who was the runner-up here two years ago, Sergio Garcia, Sungjae Im, Gary Woodland, the 2018 runner-up, and Rafa Cabrera Bello are all 25-1. Billy Horschel and Cameron Smith check in at 30-1.

Danny Willett and Tyrell Hatton are 33-1. Joaquin Niemann, who has won this season (and we had him at 33-1), Lucas Glover and Pat Perez are among the group at 40-1. Ian Poulter is 50-1, and Phil Mickelson is 80-1. Just thought it was worth mentioning. And hey, he did win last winter at 40-1 at Pebble Beach. And we had him there too.

So here are my picks:

Hideki Matsuyama, 16-1

Of the faves, I just think he might actually have the best chance. Of course when it comes to me, that could mean he has little chance at all. Ask Stenson.

There’s a bunch of other guys I would be willing to take a shot on at decent odds. But since I can only take so many …

Rafa Cabrera Bello, 25-1

He tied for third the last time here and was 11th the time before that. So why not?

Cameron Smith, 33-1

Has tied for third and seventh here. And was 13th two weeks ago in Las Vegas. Just don’t get carried away. At that number you don’t need to bet much to get a nice payday.

Pat Perez, 40-1

Has tied for fifth and seventh here. And was third in Vegas.

The other guy I was seriously considering was Sungjae Im, at 25-1, which means he’ll probably win. Could be worth an anti-me kind of play. And if you want somebody to throw only a buck or two on, you could do worse than Si Woo Kim at 100-1. He did have four Top 5s last season, all in stronger field events.

So happy hunting out there. Don't forget to be on the lookout for the college and pro football stuff later in the week. On Sunday we went 6-1 in the NFL, which of course is almost impossible for me. After, we have to mention, we went 3-5 on Saturday.

That's still not a bad weekend. Let's hope we can keep it up. Maybe after we get our seventh golf winner since January. And we lost in a playoff two weeks ago. Keep the faith.


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