Pre-Tournament Withdrawal Shakes up the Betting

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Dustin Johnson's withdrawal has given a whole new look to the CJ Cup field.

Dustin Johnson

The golfing world was rocked on Tuesday when it was announced that the best player on the planet – Dustin Johnson – had tested positive for Covid-19 and would be unable to participate in the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek.

Johnson Forced to Miss Out

Unlike many of the PGA Tour competitors who have been forced to the sidelines because of Covid, Johnson actually had some symptoms, so golf fans will be hoping he recovers properly in time to tee up in the Masters at Augusta next month.

Of more immediate concern to the golf betting community, though, is who will be lifting the CJ Cup in on Sunday. The tournament has always been staged at Nine Bridges, South Korea, but the pandemic means a Las Vegas track has taken over this time.

Shadow Creek is one of the most exclusive clubs in the world and not many of the 78 CJ Cup runners had played it before this week.

The course is making its Tour debut. Jon Rahm has taken over from Johnson as favourite and can be backed at 8/1.

Thomas Could Be Returning to Winning Ways

A tempting proposition at 10/1 this week is Justin Thomas, who some pundits believe should be the favourite.

While Rahm was one of the many who had never set foot at Shadow Creek prior to this week, Thomas had already got a couple of rounds under his belt there, most recently in February as part of a trip to Vegas to celebrate his mother’s 60th birthday.

Thomas has a love affair with Tom Fazio designs and Shadow Creek could be the latest Fazio creation which he conquers. He won the 2017 US PGA at Quail Hollow and the 2018 WGC-Bridgestone at Firestone – both layouts crafted by Fazio.

Given the form Thomas has shown post-lockdown – comfortably winning the WGC-St Jude Invitational, as well as finishing second in the Workday Charity Open and the Tour Championship, there is every reason to expect a title tilt.

The 27-year-old appeared to be suffering from a cold in his media conference on Tuesday, but a late Thursday tee-time has afforded plenty of time to recover.

Norwegian Youngster Capable of Making Waves

Aside from making a mess of the 72nd hole, Viktor Hovland again showed he has the potential to develop into a superstar on his way to finishing 13th in the US Open, and the Norwegian youngster may prove popular at 28/1 for CJ Cup glory.

Hovland is used to turning up at Tour venues which have been used for decades and having to make his debut, starting events with an immediate handicap in terms of course experience, but Shadow Creek levels the playing field.

The 23-year-old could fall in love with the long track, which lends itself to his ball-striking quality.

It is worth noting that his home course at college – when attending Oklahoma State – was a Fazio design. He used to enjoy tearing up Karsten Creek as an amateur and could do likewise to Shadow Creek as a pro.

*All odds correct at time of writing

Steve has been a Racing Post columnist, golf tipster and punter for most of his working life. One of the most well-known tipsters in the country, his columns featuring golf betting tips have been must read material for years.

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