Bet the PGA Tour: Mike Kern picks The CJ Cup at Shadow Creek and likes some longshots
Sungjae Im, of South Korea, watches his drive from the first tee during the final round of the Sanderson Farms Championship golf tournament in Jackson, Miss., Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019. Im is one of Kern's picks to win The CJ Cup in 2020.Rogelio V. Solis | Associated Press

Bet the PGA Tour: Mike Kern picks The CJ Cup at Shadow Creek and likes some longshots

When and where to watch: Thursday-Sunday, 5-8 p.m. on The Golf Channel

Last week we had Will Zalatoris to finish as a longshot to finish in the top 10 and top five, and he did both. We also had Patrick Cantlay to do the same, and he at least got us that top 10 money. If you’ve noticed a trend it’s that we’ve been doing pretty well with those in the last few weeks. Hey, it’s easier than picking the winner, even though of course we’re trying to do that too. And while Top fives and 10s don’t get you as much of a payback, they still get you something. And actually, with a longshot the payout’s not that bad. So there. And you can always cash on more than one guy.

Anyway, this week it’s the CJ Cup from Las Vegas. It used to be held in Korea, but due to the pandemic it had to be switched. It’s being held at Shadow Creek, the first time that club has ever hosted a PGA Tour event. Which means there’s really no track records to speak of. And it is a 78-man field with no cut, in case you were wondering.

Dustin Johnson, the world’s top-ranked guy, would have been the favorite had he not had to withdraw after testing positive for the virus. Tony Finau also is not playing for similar reasons.

So Jon Rahm has the lowest odds, at 8-1. Defending champion Justin Thomas is 9-1, followed by Xander Schauffele at 10-1 and Rory McIlroy at 11-1. Patrick Cantlay is 16-1 and Matthew Wolff, who almost won last week, is 18-1.

Tyrrell Hatton, who did win last week in Europe, is 20-1 along with Brooks Koepka and Collin Morikawa, who won the PGA Championship but has missed two cuts in a row. Koepka of course hasn’t played in two months due to a lingering injury. Hideki Matsuyama is 22-1 and Daniel Berger 25-1. Tommy Fleetwood and Viktor Hovland are 28-1. Louis Oosthuizen, Scottie Scheffler and Sungjae Im check in at 30-1.

Abraham Ancer and Matthew Fitzpatrick are 33-1. Paul Casey, Harris English and Brendon Todd are 35-1. Sergio Garcia is 40-1, Joaquin Niemann 45-1`. Jason Day and Gary Woodland are 50-1. Rickie Fowler, Ian Poulter, Alex Noren, Jason Kokrak and Brian Hartman are 60-1.

That’s as far as I’m going. But there are some interesting names still out there. And I may even use one or two for my longshots.

Keep one thing in mind: these types of events are almost always won by somebody who’s not a, well, surprise. Just saying.

I wouldn’t play Koepka, but you rarely get him at 20. Still, I think one of the top guys will probably win. It’s a matter of coming up with the right one. McIlroy hasn’t been driving it well, and that can be a problem. Rahm hasn’t played in awhile. Schauffelle is usually a threat when he goes up against a field like this. And Thomas can always win when he’s right. And he’s done well in these fall events recently.

If I was going to play one of those blokes, I’d go with Thomas. But I’m not overwhelming confident, especially at those odds and with so much talent in the field. A lot of these folks are capable. So I’m not going to get too excited over anyone near the top.

In the next tier, Morikawa might be worth a look even though his putter hasn’t been helping him. But again, I’m not blown away.

I’d rather take a chance with a few names further down the line. Like Sungjae Im, who I go with a lot. I’d also play him at plus $300 for a top five and plus $600 for a top 10, just in case. But I’m mostly just stabbing. Seriously. I just don’t have a real strong feel, for whatever reasons.

If you want a longer shot, how about Alex Noren at 60-1. He’s had four top 25s in his last five starts, including a third. And he’s 11-1 for a top-five and half that for a top-ten. If you really want to get crazy you can try Kevin Na at 90-1. He’s a Vegas resident who’s won in Vegas (The Shriners Hospital Open). So use him across the board (he’s 18 and 9, respectively). But Invest just enough to keep you interested.

KERN’S PICKS

Take a Chance With: Sungjae Im (30-1) – plus $300 for a top-five and plus $600 for a top 10

Long Shot: Alex Noren (60-1)

Get Crazy: Kevin Na (90-1)

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