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Rory McIlroy defends the CJ Cup this week
  1. Golf
  2. PGA Tour

The CJ Cup Preview: Reliable Rory McIlroy may defend title

Original article published 19 October 2022

The PGA Tour popped over to Japan for last week's Zozo Championship, which was won by Keegan Bradley, but the action moves back Stateside this week for the CJ Cup, which will be played for the first time at Congaree Golf Club in Ridgeland, South Carolina.

Rory McIlroy will be defending the title he won in Las Vegas last year but he will have to overcome a strong field which contains 15 of the top 20 players in the world rankings, including number one Scottie Scheffler, who is making his seasonal debut.

Jon Rahm is in attendance two weeks after he enjoyed success at the Spanish Open and this is the best congregation of players since the Tour Championship brought the 2021-22 campaign to a close at the end of August.

What:The CJ Cup, PGA Tour
Where:Congaree Golf Club, Ridgeland, South Carolina, USA
When:20th October - 23rd October 2022
How to watch:Live on Sky Sports Golf & Main Event 
Odds: Rory McIlroy 7/1, Jon Rahm 9/1, Scottie Scheffler 12/1, Justin Thomas 14/1, Matt Fitzpatrick 22/1, Sungjae Im 22/1, Viktor Hovland 22/1.

Previous winners

The CJ Cup was first played in 2017 when it was won by Justin Thomas in a playoff against Australia's Marc Leishman at Nine Bridges, Jeju Island in South Korea.

Thomas won there again two years later on the last occasion the tournament was held at that venue, while Brooks Koepka claimed a four-shot success in 2018.

The tournament was moved to Shadow Creek, Nevada in 2020 and was won by Jason Kokrak, while Rory McIlroy won at The Summit, also in Las Vegas, last year.

Course details

This week's par 71, 7,685-yard test has hosted a PGA Tour tournament just once before, the Palmetto Championship last year and the standard of the field was nowhere near the quality of the players assembled this week.

Garrick Higgo won that week at the Tom Fazio-designed course which contains no rough, although sandy areas beyond the fairways are generally best avoided.

There is space though for players to let rip from the tee so expect driver to be used on most of the holes and both the undulating fairways and the green are Bermuda grass.

There are three par-fives, all of which should be comfortably reached in two by players of this quality.

Three to follow

Rory McIlroy - 7/1

Rory McIlroy has this year been playing his best golf since winning the last of his four Majors at the 2014 US PGA Championship and all the indications are there for a successful defence of his CJ Cup this week.

It is seven weeks since he won the FedEx Cup but while some of his rivals this week have been taking it easy, the world number two has been ticking along nicely, finishing second behind Shane Lowry at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth and fourth at both the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland.

The freedom to let rip off the tee is a big boost for McIlroy this week and as he has been ultra- consistent for a few months and the quality of his approach and short-game play has improved, he looks a worthy favourite for glory this week.

Tyrrell Hatton - 40/1

Tyrrell Hatton is one of a host of players who have made the long trip from Japan to South Carolina this week and he may have been disappointed by his 45th-placed Zozo finish.

However, he is on familiar territory this week, having finished in a six-way tie for second at the Palmetto last year, just a shot behind the winner.

Hatton claimed top-ten finishes at both the Italian and Alfred Dunhill, so there is some good recent form in the book and the Englishman is definitely capable of competing among the world's top players.

Corey Conners - 50/1

Corey Conners finished tied for 25th at the Zozo, but it should be noted that he recovered well from a poor opening round of 73.

The Canadian, who was ranked 13th tee-to-green and fifth off the tee in the season before the last Tour Championship, recovered well with three straight rounds of 67, so that should boost his confidence.

That came four weeks after his previous tournament performance, when he missed the cut at the Fortinet Championship, and it is just possible he could have shaken off some of the rust.

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