The CJ Cup in South Korea will be played this year at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, a move that allows the PGA Tour to stage most of its Asia swing amid the coronavirus pandemic and attract top players who might not otherwise have left the country.
The tournament will be called the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek, instead of the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges, the course on Jeju Island, South Korea, where it had been played the previous three years. Justin Thomas is the defending champion, having also won the inaugural year. Brooks Koepka won in 2018.
The move also gives the PGA Tour another doubleheader in the same city. The tournament will be Oct. 15-18, one week after the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at the TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas. The tour in July played consecutive tournaments at Muirfield Village in Ohio.
Shadow Creek is a private club north of Las Vegas that previously was televised two years ago on Thanksgiving weekend when Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson played a pay-per-view exhibition, which Mickelson won to claim the $9 million winner-take-all prize.
The Associated Press first reported the developments in the Asia swing last month, and the PGA Tour is still working out details on the possibility of the Zozo Championship in Japan moving to the West Coast for this year. Two people with direct knowledge of the negotiations said Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California, would be the course. They spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal has not been finalized. That would be the week after the CJ Cup.
Woods is the defending champion of the Japan event and a five-time winner at Sherwood when his World Challenge was played there.
By working with CJ Group and Zozo, the tour has managed to keep together a lucrative part of its fall schedule and provide big tournaments just a few weeks before the Masters, which was moved from April to November this year because of the pandemic.
“The PGA is truly appreciative of CJ Group’s commitment to bring the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek to the United States this October,” said Ty Votaw, the tour’s executive vice president of international operations. “While our players have always looked forward to visiting Korea, the current circumstances provided this new opportunity to bring the event to Las Vegas, which will also provide brand exposure and awareness to the viewing audience in the United States and around the globe.”
Ethan Kim, sports marketing director of CJ Group, said the tournament would return to South Korea in 2021.
The CJ Cup has a 78-man field that features the highest-ranked South Korean from the Asian Tour money list, up to five players designated by the Korean PGA and the top three South Korean players available from the world ranking as part of CJ Group’s desire to help develop golf in South Korea. The rest of the field comes from the FedEx Cup standings, and there has been no shortage of top players who have gone to Jeju Island the last three years.
Thomas said it has become one of his favorites. It helps that he won twice.
“It’s unfortunate that we won’t be able to travel to Korea for this year’s event, but it is fantastic that we will still be able to shine a light on CJ Group through the tournament at a venue like Shadow Creek,” Thomas aid.
The third event in the Asia Swing is the HSBC Champions in Shanghai, part of the World Golf Championships. That event is likely to be canceled this year in light of China banning all sporting events the rest of the year except those connected to the 2022 Olympic games in Beijing.