While we all needed a November Masters in 2019, we missed the April rendition that features the Augusta National Golf Club golf course in peak condition. Firm, speedy greens, preceded by similar fairways and exquisite bunkers, were in evidence on day one of the 2021 competition. Mr. Lee Elder joined Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player as an honorary starter, then chairman Fred Ridley proclaimed the tournament underway. The golf that followed was excellent, and the day’s events provided many lessons to the faithful. We’ve distilled them down to five, and are pleased to open Masters week with five things that we learned on Thursday at ANGC.
1. “The margins are tiny” (Some big names played poorly)
We are always caught unaware when one of the game’s grand names turns in a poor first round at the Masters. Perhaps poorly is too strong a word; as Scott Verplank noted in the online coverage of the 15th and 16th holes—the margins for error are tiny.
This year was no different, as Bryson DeChambeau, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, and Lee Westwood each turned in a round above 75. This wasn’t horrible when the leader stood at 69, but when that number dropped late in the day, recovery became daunting. Will a mid-60s round on day two, bring them back into the thick of things? Absolutely. In fact, we’d be surprised if at least one of them doesn’t turn in a 66 or better on Friday.
2. Some smaller names played well
No names, outside of the amateur invitees, are of the smallish variety. They arrive via Washington Avenue as top 50-ranked players, or PGA Tour winners, or with some other laurel to create their stature. That said, some of the names are newer to us, and Christian Bezuidenhout, Will Zalatoris, and Brian Harman ended the day inside the top five. The first is a young lion from South Africa, with a game seasoned on the European Tour. The second is a young Demon Deacon from Dallas, who took the Korn Ferry Tour by storm in 2019, and has not let up. The third is the most recognizable name, but with two wins to his credit, Harman wants to trade the “journeyman pro” nametag for one that reads “major champion.” He has challenged in majors before, which should stand him well over the next 54 holes. For Bezuidenhout and Zalatoris, the task will be a bit more arduous.
3. There was a little bit of crazy on Thursday at the Masters
We’re not talking about Vijay Singh holing a long putt at 15 for an ocho moments after he hit the same putt into the pond with his sixth shot (although that did happen.) We’re not talking about Justin Rose’s afternoon round (that one gets its own number further along). We’re talking about Viktor Hovland tossing a triple bogey on the first hole, posting five birdies as a rebound, but adding three more bogeys to shoot one over par. We’re talking about Sungjae Im making a nine at the 15th after clearing the water in two. Hovland is still in site of the leader at +1, but Im followed the big number with a bogey at 16, and signed for 77, twelve back of the lead. Other than Rose (number five, but don’t jump ahead) there were no low numbers on the board. Patience was the order of the day, and Hovland trumped Im in that category.
4. If you go long on 15, stay long
We usually speak about golfers in “Five Things we Learned,” but today, we recall the inspiration for Bobby Jones’ Augusta National: the Old Course at St. Andrews. At the home of golf, strategy at times dictates a play beyond the hole, and even beyond the green. It asks you to play to flat areas for your approach, rather than claim distance and an awkward lie. Nowhere was this more evident than beyond the 15th green. Im and Singh notwithstanding, it was all right to play long on the par 5 as long as you didn’t try to gain too much back with your third. Should the course remain firm this week, players will take a page, nay, a chapter, from the books of Jones and Hogan, and figure out where best to miss.
5. The Rose Series: Justin Rose from the 8th tee on
Do you remember when Sergio Garcia won his green jacket in 2017? He overcame Justin Rose (at that time, the recent Olympic champion and not-too-distant U.S. Open winner) for his first and only major. That loss must still smart, because Rose came out with desire in his eyes this morning. Problem was, he stood at plus-two as he walked off the seventh green, looking anything like a contender.
Over the next 11 holes, Rose posted one eagle and seven birdies, to jet past the clubhouse leaders.
Rose’s drive at the eighth split the fairway, and his metal approach caromed off the left mounds (better lucky than good, unless you’re both) to 15 feet. He drained the putt for eagle, returned to even par, and pressed the accelerator to the floor. After birdies at nine and 10, he played a gutsy recovery from the left pine straw. Landing no more than eight yards from the left pond, Rose reached the green and two-putted for par. He conquered Amen Corner with birdies at 12 and 13 to reach four under, then added a trio of chirpies at 15, 16, and 17, to post 65 on the day.
Rose’s number is all the more impressive when you consider that he was the only golfer toward an afternoon tee time to shoot anything near the 60s. If he can take advantage of an earlier tee time on Friday, his four-shot advantage might grow considerably by the weekend.
Morning 9: Aus. Opens canceled | More Phil on 46-inch rule | RIP Renton Laidlaw
Interesting photos from the 2021 CJ Cup (plus links to all WITB galleries)
GolfWRX has an assortment of photos from the 2021 CJ Cup at the Summit Club, including in-hand photos of equipment, shots from the range, exclusive looks at new shafts, 19 WITBs, and more.
With the 2022 season on the horizon, players are happy to experiment — and equipment reps are happy to assist. Perhaps, most notably, we spotted Justin Thomas with prototype 621.JT and Adam Scott with proto 681.AS irons in the bag.
You can check out links to the galleries, below, before with dig into a curation of some of the most interesting shots from Summit.
- Adam Scott – WITB – 2021 CJ Cup at The Summit Club
- Justin Rose – WITB – 2021 CJ Cup at The Summit Club
- Collin Morikawa – WITB – 2021 CJ Cup at The Summit Club
- Jason Day – WITB – 2021 CJ Cup at The Summit Club
- Justin Thomas – WITB – 2021 CJ Cup @ The Summit Club
- Erik Van Rooyen – WITB – 2021 CJ Cup @ The Summit Club
- Matt Jones – WITB – 2021 CJ Cup at The Summit Club
- Cam Davis – WITB – 2021 CJ Cup at The Summit Club
- Cam Smith – WITB – 2021 CJ Cup at The Summit Club
- Byeong Hun An – WITB – 2021 CJ Cup at The Summit Club
- Min Kyu – WITB – 2021 CJ Cup at The Summit Club
- Joohyung Kim – WITB – 2021 CJ Cup @ The Summit Club
- Tommy Fleetwood – WITB – 2021 CJ Cup @ The Summit Club
- Jordan Spieth – WITB – 2021 CJ Cup @ The Summit Club
- Lucas Glover – WITB – 2021 CJ Cup @ The Summit Club
- Keegan Bradley – WITB – 2021 CJ Cup @ The Summit Club
- Gary Woodland’s new Cameron putter – 2021 CJ Cup @ The Summit Club
- Kevin Na’s new Odyssey/Toulon putter – 2021 CJ Cup @ The Summit Club
- Jucie wedges & Proto irons – 2021 CJ Cup at The Summit Club
Tommy Fleetwood – WITB (more photos here)
Jucie Wedges & Irons (more photos here)
Cam Smith – WITB (more photos here)
Matt Jones – WITB (more photos here)
Gary Woodland — new putter (more photos here)
CJ Cup at Summit DraftKings Picks
The PGA Tour stays in Las Vegas, Nevada, this week for the CJ Cup. This tournament was played for the first time in October 2017 at the Nine Bridges Golf Club in Jeju Island, South Korea. In 2020, the event was moved to Shadow Creek Golf Club in Las Vegas, Nevada, due to the COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions.
This year, the CJ Cup will remain in Las Vegas, albeit at a different venue, the Summit Club. The CJ Cup only features a field of 78 players, but what the event lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality, as 23 of the world’s top 30 players will be in attendance this week.
Sitting in the Summerlin suburb of Las Vegas, the Summit Club is a beautiful and lush parkland layout masquerading as a desert course. The club was designed in 2017 by Tom Fazio and commissioned by the Discovery Land Company. The Summit Club plays as a stock par 72, measuring 7,459 yards on the scorecard. It draws an obvious comparison to last year’s venue, Shadow Creek. A few weeks ago at the BMW Championship, we were in a similar position. Both Caves Valley and the Summit Club are Tom Fazio courses that had previously never seen PGA Tour competition.
With that being said, we can still develop an understanding of this course based on some images and what we already know about Tom Fazio as a designer. Fazio’s PGA Tour body of work also includes Congaree, Quail Hollow (re-design), Kasumigaseki, Conway Farms, and Shadow Creek. Fazio is known for intricate bunkering and large elevated greens.
His courses tend to favor long and accurate drivers of the ball, and it is no coincidence that players such as Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele, and Jason Day have experienced success on his layouts. For this reason, I will be homing in on dominant off-the-tee players and those who are comfortable in easy scoring conditions.
Let’s dig into my DraftKings picks.
Dustin Johnson, $11,300 (16.32%)
I was hoping to bet Dustin Johnson outright, but 12/1 is far too hefty of a price to pay, even for the 24-time PGA Tour winner. I’ll gladly settle for exposure to him in DraftKings. At $11,300, Johnson is the most expensive golfer on the DraftKings slate as well, but this is clearly reflected in his ownership. I have no problem paying up for Johnson as a clear pivot from Xander Schauffele, Collin Morikawa, and Justin Thomas, who are all garnering more ownership. Lastly, I find the $6K range to be abnormally strong this week, giving us some more wiggle room at the top.
Brooks Koepka, $9,700 (7.36%)
I understand that Brooks Koepka is a risky play given that he has a tendency to mentally eject from tournaments if he is not in contention, but I am expecting a massive week from the four-time major champion. For cash games, I have no problem pivoting to Louis Oosthuizen, who provides a far more reliable floor, but I will gladly take my chances on a sub-eight percent Brooks Koepka in large-scale GPP contests.
Adam Scott, $8,100 (5.63%)
Adam Scott and Paul Casey sit right next to each other on the DraftKings slate, yet Casey is garnering over three times the ownership of Scott. I have no issue with Paul Casey this week, in fact, I think he is a suitable play in cash games, but is he three times more likely to outscore Adam Scott this week? That’s where I have to draw the line. While the Australian has certainly experienced his fair share of ups and downs last season, it finally feels like his game is rounding into form. The 14-time PGA Tour winner has gained over 4.5 strokes on approach in two of his last three starts. The Summit Club is also extremely forgiving off the tee, which should mask some of his recent struggles with the driver.
Sergio Garcia, $7,500 (9.11%)
There are loads of excellent pivots in the $7,000 range. I could have easily written up a 4% Justin Rose, but let’s roll with Sergio Garcia this week. The Spaniard boasts an impressive resume on Fazio designs, with a fourth and a 16th at Quail Hollow, a sixth at Caves Valley, and a 21st at Shadow Creek. As one of the best drivers of the ball in the world who also pounds greens in regulation, Garcia possesses the prototypical Fazio skill-set.
Hudson Swafford, $6,000 (1.22%)
Hudson Swafford is one of the most appealing minimum-priced players in recent memory. Over his last 36 rounds, the two-time PGA Tour winner ranks above average in opportunities gained, greens in regulation gained, driving distance, birdies or better gained, strokes gained off the tee, and sand saves. While the University of Georgia product is most certainly a poor-man’s version of some of the players I have mentioned above (Johnson, Koepka, Garcia), he does the exact same things well. It does not come as a surprise that his last two Fazio appearances have resulted in a runner-up and 17th-place finish. Swafford is an excellent salary filler that will allow fantasy managers to splurge on elite talent at the top.
Patrick Reed’s Twitter suggests that he’s fuming with Stricker’s Ryder Cup snub
Taking the backyard putting green plunge
4-wood vs 7-wood vs hybrid – GolfWRXers discuss
The Wedge Guy: More on learning – the grip
Jessica Korda calls out social media ‘hate’ as rise in online abuse continues
Justin Rose’s caddie calls into question U.S. player’s graciousness at Solheim Cup
Clement: This wrist position can add 30 yards to your drive
Steve Stricker shares positive news from Tiger Woods’ rehab
Spider-Man’s driver off the deck nearly lands him a spot on the European Ryder Cup team
Patrick Cantlay’s winning WITB: 2021 Tour Championship
Jason Day WITB 2021 (October)
Driver: Ping G425 LST (9 degrees) Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei AV Raw White 65 TX 3-wood: TaylorMade SIM Max (15 degrees)...
Javier Ballesteros WITB (October)
Javier Ballesteros what’s in the bag accurate as of the Andalucia Masters. All photos c/o @SMS_on_Tour Driver: Callaway Epic Max...
Justin Thomas WITB 2021 (October)
Justin Thomas what’s in the bag accurate as of the CJ Cup. Driver: Titleist TSi2 (9 degrees, B1 SureFit) Shaft:...
WITB Time Machine: Justin Thomas’ winning WITB 2017 CJ Cup
Driver: Titleist 917D2 (9.5 degrees) Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana BF 60TX (tipped 1.5 inches) 3 Wood: Titleist 917F2 (15 degrees) Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei CK...
19th Hole1 week ago
Bryson reveals the cut-off point on money list where players make an annual loss on Tour
19th Hole5 days ago
Bryson DeChambeau shares why dimples are the key to sinking more short putts
19th Hole1 week ago
Tiger Woods photographed back on golf course with son Charlie
19th Hole2 weeks ago
‘Patrick Cantlay p****d me off’ – European Ryder Cup rookie hits out at U.S. star
19th Hole3 weeks ago
The ruthless message Tiger Woods sent to inspire the U.S team at Ryder Cup
19th Hole3 days ago
High school sophomore records a historic 57 in conference championship
19th Hole1 week ago
Why Harris English’s putter grip led to strange ruling at Ryder Cup
Podcasts2 weeks ago
The 19th Hole Episode 168: Long Drive Champ Maurice Allen discusses Bryson