Golf picks: CJ Cup predictions & best bets from Diane Knox Balas

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Diane Knox Balas


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Diane Knox Balas loves golf (she’s Scottish, so of course she does) but let’s just say she’s much better at analyzing golf than playing! The same cannot be said for her brother, Russell Knox, who’s a 2-time winner on the PGA Tour and fueled Diane’s initial passion for the sport. A seasoned TV and radio host, Diane has given out 8 outright winners since joining the Pickswise team in April 2022. Her general rule is she has to have three stand-out reasons for each pick and spends her time studying stats, playing form and little nuggets of information from golfers’ lives on Tour. Diane lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her husband Garrett, son Greyson and two English Bulldogs Bowser & Barkley. You can follow her antics on Twitter @KnoxyDiane and Instagram @dianeknoxbalas. For Diane Knox Balas media enquiries, please email
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This week I am very much looking forward to “afternoon” action on the PGA Tour. After last week’s ZOZO Championship in Japan, I felt so out-of-the-loop not being able to watch the tournament coverage live — but there was no way this heavily pregnant woman could stay awake past 8:00 pm!

Keegan Bradley got the win, with Rickie Fowler right behind him. Not only did Rickie finish one shot back, but Andrew Putnam was also tied for 2nd — meaning my top-10 prop bet cashed in at +300. It was small consolation, but a success nonetheless.

Now the tour moves to South Carolina for the CJ Cup. This event was originally held in South Korea (I know, just a small location change!), but for the last 2 years took place in Vegas due to COVID and ongoing travel restrictions. Rory McIlroy makes his return to defend the ’21 title, a win that kick-started the season that would see him go on to win the FedExCup.

Six of the OWGR Top 10 are playing this week, including Scottie Scheffler, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas. Once again, this a smaller field, no-cut event, with 78 players teeing it up.

There’s also a great story behind Congaree Golf Club. The club’s founding principle is philanthropy, working to impact the lives of young people locally and all over the world by providing educational and vocational opportunities through the game of golf. To join the private club, you have to be invited by an “ambassador” and donate to the Congaree Foundation. It’s worth nothing that quite a few PGA Tour members are ambassadors, but I’ll get into that later on when making my picks.

Congaree Golf Club: What you need to know

Congaree is a stunning golf course with a great story behind it. We first saw it host a PGA Tour event in June 2021, when it was the venue for the first edition of the Palmetto Championship — a tournament that hasn’t been part of the schedule since. It was a new addition as part of the mega-season after COVID.

I went to the Palmetto and was so impressed by the course; I really felt like I could’ve been back in Scotland! In fact, this Tom Fazio design was based around the sand belt courses of Australia. The rough has been replaced by sand, and all the grass on the course is the same length.

It’s a long course, measuring 7,655 yards and is a par 71. Looking back on the stats from the Palmetto Championship, overall strong tee-to-green play was crucial, as well as greens in regulation and — for the eventual champion Garrick Higgo — driving distance.

Knox’s Knockout CJ Cup picks

Justin Thomas (+1600 at DraftKings)

Congaree is modeled on the courses of the Australian sand belt and none more so than Royal Melbourne, which hosted the 2019 Presidents Cup. JT played on that winning US team and had some tough draws against the top Aussies but was the lead points scorer for his side. He also loves the CJ Cup, having won the tournament twice in ’17 and ’19. Thomas is so solid tee-to-green (3rd last season) and should love the challenges that Congaree brings.

Cameron Young (+3000 at BetMGM)

Given its length, open fairways and lack of rough, Congaree is a bit of bombers’ paradise. When I think of bombers, I think of Cam Young. We’ve only seen him play once this season; that was in Japan last week, when he finished T53. However, this course is way more up his alley and we just have to hope he recovers from the jet lag quickly! Last season showed his strength, finishing 2nd off-the-tee, 3rd in driving distance and 15th tee-to-green. I expect to see all of this make a return this week and put Young back on track to getting his first win.

Tyrrell Hatton (+4000 at DraftKings)

Even though this is a long, open course, creativity is required to navigate your way through the sandy conditions and this plays into the game of Tyrrell Hatton. He finished runner-up around Congaree last year and played really well around this links-inspired course. Coming off 2 top 10s on the DP World Tour, and a mediocre week in Japan, the Englishman will be playing on a course that allows him to let loose and show off his excellent iron play.

Harris English (+14000 at Bet365)

Harris English has some unfinished business with Congaree GC. Last year at the Palmetto Championship, English was firmly in contention — and leading for a while on Sunday — before his round derailed and he shot a 74 to finish in a tie for 14th. Harris is also one of the club’s ambassadors, so knows the course well. He is coming back from a long injury and rehab, but there has been some real sparks so far this season, including a top-10 at the Fortinet and final round 65 in Vegas to jump him up to T28. I’ll take him outright and also for a top-10 spot at +850.

We’ll have Golf picks and predictions for EVERY event in the 2022-23 PGA Tour season!

ZOZO Championship Prop Bets

Rickie Fowler top 10 (+500 at DraftKings)

Oh, Rickie…. He came so close to that win at the ZOZO. After a pretty dire couple of years and recent coach, caddy and equipment changes, it looks as though Fowler is returning to some decent form. He finished T6 at the Fortinet and then 2nd in Japan, and the future is looking bright (orange). He is back at the CJ Cup on a sponsor’s exemption after holding the 54-hole lead last year and finishing T3. I don’t feel confident enough for the outright win, but I’ll take him at this price for a top 10.

J.T. Poston top 10 (+650 at Bet365)

Poston is another golfer who is an ambassador of Congaree GC and has waxed lyrical about how much he loves the course. He is a great iron player with fantastic precision. He didn’t play well here last year, but we have seen how much his game has changed since the end of last season and getting his second win at the John Deere Classic.

Cameron Davis top 5 (+1200 at Bet365)

I have to pick an Aussie on the Aussie-inspired course! Cam Davis has been playing some pretty good golf, especially at the Presidents Cup, and currently sits 13th off-the-tee for the season. He ha a lot of length off-the-tee and should thrive around this sandy course. I might even take him for a top 10 at +550.

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