Sticking around Las Vegas for a second week in a row, the PGA TOUR travels 18 miles Northeast for THE CJ CUP @ SHADOW CREEK.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this event was relocated from South Korea for one year. They are expected to return to Jeju Island next fall.
The tournament is a no-cut event with just 78 golfers in the field. To primary criteria to crack the field is that you needed to have finished Top 60 in the FedExCup last season. Usually that brings out all of the stars but again, the pandemic put a dent in those plans. Due to the shortened season, a lot more stars fell outside of that top-60 bubble. As a result, the list of golfers that needed sponsor invites this week includes Tommy Fleetwood, Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia, Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka, Shane Lowry, Justin Rose, Ian Poulter, and Keegan Bradley.
Shadow Creek Golf Course will host this week. Fans may remember this venue from the 2018 Match between Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. The course is catered to high rollers in Vegas, costing you more than $500 for a round.
The Tom Fazio design is sculpted in the desert terrain but looks far from arid. It looks like someone crafted the course in a video game and then cut-and-pasted it into its current location. That was back in 1989 when this place was isolated but it's now surrounded by housing communities.
This week's setup shows a par 72 on the scorecard that will play around 7,527 yards according to the scorecard. That would be considered pretty long most weeks but they are playing at around 2,000 feet above sea level so the course gets shortened a touch with that added altitude boost.
Golfers will have water hazards in play on half the holes and greens are on the small side, just 5,500 square feet on average. That's about 1,000 less than the TOUR average.
For turf, golfers will see bermudagrass that has been overseeded with ryegrass from tee-to-green. The overseed was put down just five weeks ago. Once they reach the putting surfaces, they will see T1 Bentgrass with a target stimp rating of 12 feet. That is close to average TOUR speed, possibly a little quicker than average.
Sifting through some past quotes, let's try to break down the course to see how it will play.
Tom Kite: "Leaving Las Vegas’ desert surroundings and entering the forested wilderness that is Shadow Creek is a shock to the senses. No matter how much you may have heard of it… the question that continues to run through your head while experiencing Shadow Creek is, how did it get here?"
Jerome Bettis: "It's North Carolina majesty in the middle of the desert."
Tiger Woods: "To go from a flat piece of property in a flat desert to creating something that you would find in the Carolinas, out in the mountains, I think it's just phenomenal. To be able to create something so utopian like this is a testament to the ownership and what their vision was for this property, and what they've done is just incredible."
Check back on Wednesday and I will add some additional quotes from the pre-tournament press conferences.
Looking at grass types, geography, course attributes, and past performance, here are a few courses/events that I think could prove to be a good pointer this week:
TPC Scottsdale (Phoenix Open)
PGA WEST Rota
TPC Summerlin (Shriners)
We are looking at desert golf out West with some altitude involved. It's easy to see how all three of these might correlate by week's end.
Thursday: Sunny with a high of 85 degrees. Winds at 7 to 10 MPH gusts up to 20 MPH.
Friday: Partly sunny with a high of 86 degrees. Winds around 5 MPH with gusts flirting with 15 MPH.
There isn't rain in the forecast but wind could present a challenge. As of Monday, it looks like round one will have some wind to deal with before things calm down on Friday. It's way too early to trust a wind forecast so keep an eye on things as the event draws nearer.