Another Covid ‘victim’, the CJ Cup was born in 2017 and played at the Nine Bridges Club in Korea as part of a PGA Tour push into Asia.
The first three tournaments were played there, Justin Thomas winning in 2017 and 2019 with Brooks Koepka taking the title in between. In 2020 the pandemic forced the tournament to move to the Las Vegas desert for what was hoped to be a one-year hiatus but has now stretched to two.
Last year, the ultra-exclusive Shadow Creek played host and that theme continues this year at the nearby Summit Club.
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Jason Kokrak claimed his first PGA Tour win in 2020 with a closing 64 delivering victory by two shots over Xander Schauffele.
RIGHT: Jason Kokrak closed with the round of the week in 2020 to win for the first time on the PGA Tour. PHOTO: Christian Petersen/Getty Images.
COURSE: So exclusive is The Summit Club that not even the PGA Tour have details of the course in their usual place on the tournament website.
In fact, even the ever-reliable Google turns up little in the way of detail about the course though there is no shortage of promotional material about the development built around it.
Described as a “555 acre residential lifestyle club community”, the 18-hole Tom Fazio designed layout is the centrepiece of the development which opened in 2017 and boasts a mix of 260 homes and units ranging in price from $3million to $10 million.
Details of the course itself are sketchy and most information needs to be gleaned from the smattering of publicity shots that appear in a google image search.
According to the Tour website the players will cover 7,431 yards (6,794 metres) at a par of 72 but beyond that there is little help for the inquisitive mind.
From the aforementioned photos, the course might best be described as ‘typical’ desert golf with wide fairways and large greens.
That is no surprise given the diverse range of skill levels likely to be found among the small membership.
The conditioning is, not surprisingly, immaculate though the bright green strips of fairway and dazzling white bunkers are jarring to the eye against the harsh and barren desert backdrop.
Other interesting tid bits to emerge about the course during this writer’s research include this nugget from the website cigaraficionado.com:
“Meldman (owner of the development company that built the Summit Club) is also George Clooney’s partner in upscale Casamigas Tequila, so you’ll find tee boxes are accessorized with in-ground, self-serve Tequila fridges.”
These are – sadly – unlikely to feature this week though the mind boggles at the possibilities.
In short, it seems the course architecture nerds among us will need to wait till the telecast starts before we can form any opinions about this week’s layout.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: It’s a top-heavy event thanks to the limited field and large purse on offer which should make for some interesting viewing.
It’s both tempting and wise to look to the usual suspects on a course that should offer plenty of scoring opportunities.
Last week’s winner Sungjae Im will rightly be in the thoughts of many though those with Vegas connections might be worth an extra look.
In that mould look no further than club member Collin Morikawa who already has a 62 to his name on the course.
Home field advantage is at best a limited concept at this level but as good as Morikawa is any slight advantage is magnified.
Perhaps not as a potential winner but it will be interesting to see the form of Jason Day who is making his first start since August thanks to a sponsor’s exemption.
Day withdrew from this event ahead of the final round last year after tweaking his back during warm up and has been less than his best since.
Two-time European Tour winner and rising star Rasmus Hojgaard has also been extended a sponsor’s invitation and could surprise.
Alongside twin brother Nicolai, the Danish pair have made a big impression on the European Tour and while he missed the cut last week at The Shriners he should be more settled and ready to perform this week.
PAST AUSSIE WINNERS: No previous Australian winners.
AUSTRALIANS IN THE FIELD: Cam Davis, Jason Day, Matt Jones, Marc Leishman, Adam Scott and Cam Smith.
Round 1: Friday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 8am – 11am)
Round 2: Sarurday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 8am – 11am)
Round 3: Sunday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 8am – 11am)
Round 4: Monday (Fox Sports 505 LIVE 8am – 11am)
*AEDT, check local guides