Collin Morikawa, Hideki Matsuyama, Billy Horschel and Tyrrell Hatton will be among the notables reviewed in Draws and Fades.
The PGA TOUR’s first (and only prior) stop at this week’s host course was for the Palmetto Championship at Congaree in June of 2021. Garrick Higgo prevailed, and after gaining entry via a commissioner exemption no less. To put the timing of that tournament into perspective, it was two seasons ago and it marked the first anniversary of the Return to Golf after the three-month shutdown due to COVID-19.
The TOUR’s return to Congaree is for a much different competition. Whereas the Palmetto Championship hosted a full field of 156 with a 36-hole cut, THE CJ CUP at South Carolina reserves room for only 78, and there is no cut. Officially, eight spots are saved for golfers from South Korea – five KPGA members and three via the Official World Golf Ranking – but there are 14 natives or golfers with South Korean heritage committed thanks to the growing depth of talent among members. Of those who competed in the Palmetto Championship, 19 are back this week. Higgo did not qualify.
Congaree Golf Club was designed by Tom Fazio. He and his team of lui sought out to replicate the kind of layout that you’d find in Australia’s Sandbelt region in Melbourne. So, there isn’t a relevant sightline that isn’t consumed with sand and / or native area.
Congaree is a par 71 with three par 5s and it tips at 7,655 yards. Rough essentially is a rumor on the property, but what little there is has been allowed to scale to four inches. Champion bermuda greens are average in size and prepped to run as far as 13 feet on the Stimpmeter.
Hot and humid conditions dominated for the first three rounds here in 2021, but the elements this week will be considerably different, as you’d expect four months and change later in the year. Thursday’s daytime high won’t eclipse 70 degrees. It will warm gradually thereafter but the highest temperatures will settle in the mid-70s. Rain is not expected and winds will be light, so Congaree is poised to be pure.
The host course averaged 71.743 for the 156-man field in 2021. That slotted it as the second-hardest of all non-majors in the super season of 2020-21 and about a half-shot higher than third-hardest Riviera Country Club, host of 120 golfers for The Genesis Invitational.
Because of its length, Congaree will reward distance off the tee, but the fairways are generous, so it’s more of a second-shot exercise than it seems. Taut games on approach and with the shortest sticks will define the final leaderboard.
ROB BOLTON’S SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.com’s Rob Bolton recaps and previews every tournament from numerous perspectives. Look for his following contributions as scheduled.
MONDAY: Power Rankings
TUESDAY*: Sleepers, Draws & Fades
WEDNESDAY: Pick ‘Em Preview
SUNDAY: Medical Extensions, Qualifiers, Reshuffle
* – Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesday.