We might be coming to the end of the golfing year, but the strength of the fields doesn’t show any sign of dropping off with another stellar group scheduled to tee it up at the CJ Cup.

A host of the victorious American Ryder Cup team are teeing it up with Dustin Johnson (12/1), Justin Thomas (14/1) and Xander Schauffele (14/1) heading the betting.

Here’s our preview ahead of Thursday’s opening round.

Home comforts for Morikawa

While we have no results to work from for this week’s tournament, all reports of the Summit Club suggest it’s going to be a course which the world’s best eat for breakfast. You can expect a score well into double figures will be needed to win this week and so birdies, and a lot of them, will be the order of the day. Birdies are something Collin Morikawa thrives on and the American looks the one to be with at 16/1, considering his close connections to this week’s course.

Morikawa, who was tied for 16th in birdie average on the PGA Tour last season, lives in Las Vegas and is a member at the Summit Club, where he has shot a 62 previously. Course experience counted for much in last year’s renewal at Shadow Creek where Jason Kokrak emerged victorious. Kokrak had more than 20 rounds under his belt at Shadow Creek – experience none of the remainder of the field could count on – and a similar story could happen 12 months later with Morikawa likely to hit the ground running at a course he knows well.

The American’s form dipped during the FedEx Cup playoffs where he was battling a back injury, but he showed he was feeling no ill effects at the Ryder Cup a few weeks later. The 24-year-old notched up three-and-a-half-points from four matches on debut and he’ll surely take great confidence from that into his first start back.

Smith could reach the Summit

A birdie-fest will be music to the ears of Cameron Smith and the Australian player looks another likely contender at 30/1.

You just have to look through Smith’s results from last season to see that he is more than happy to go low in order to contend. He impressed many at the Masters, played in November and in much easier conditions, while he posted top 10s in Tokyo, the St Jude Invitational and Northern Trust with scores of -14, -14 and -20. He was defeated in a playoff at the Northern Trust and he’ll be keen to right that wrong quickly after an errant tee shot on the first extra hole cost him all hopes of victory.

The Aussie averaged nearly 4.5 birdies a round during the 2021 season – the fourth most on the PGA Tour – and given he hasn’t played since the Tour Championship over a month ago, he’ll be refreshed and raring to finish the year in style.

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