The CJ Cup is easily the most high-profile event on the PGA Tour fall calendar.
While the well-traveled tourney features a limited group of players and no cut, that limited field this week is absolutely stacked. Fifty-three past PGA Tour winners are teeing it up at South Carolina’s Congaree Golf Club, as are 15 of the top 20 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
The headliners, of course, are the top two players in the world, No. 1 Scottie Scheffler and No. 2 Rory McIlroy, who last shared a golf course when McIlroy ran down Scheffler to win the Tour Championship. And come Sunday evening, those two could flip-flop in the rankings, which we’ll get to in just a moment.
Beyond the McIlroy-Scheffler drama, several storylines should have golf fans wanting to tune in to the CJ Cup.
Rory McIlroy can overtake Scottie Scheffler for the No. 1 spot in the world rankings at the CJ Cup
Scottie Scheffler has been the top-ranked golfer in the world for nearly seven months now, taking the No. 1 spot on March 27. But the Masters champion’s 30-week reign is in jeopardy as Rory McIlroy can take over the top spot at the CJ Cup. And two scenarios allow for this flip-flop to occur.
First, if Rory wins the CJ Cup for the second straight year and Scheffler doesn’t finish in solo second or a tie for second, McIlroy is the new No. 1.
Secondly, if Rory finishes as the lone runner-up and Scheffler finishes worse than solo 34th, McIlroy is the new No. 1.
McIlroy has been the top-ranked golfer in the world eight times before, his last reign ending on July 8, 2020.
Will the resurgence of Rickie Fowler continue?
At one point in time, Rickie Fowler was the fourth-ranked player in the world. But after a rough few years, the five-time PGA Tour winner comes to the CJ Cup ranked 106th. And the only reason he’s that high is that he finally seems to be reverting to his former self.
Less than two months ago, at the close of the 2021-22 PGA Tour season, Fowler had dropped all the way to No. 178. But he’s climbed 72 spots since then.
The ascent started at the Fortinet Championship, where he tied for sixth, finishing five shots back of winner Max Homa to move to No. 148. Fowler dropped back to No. 160 after missing the cut three weeks later at the Shriners Children’s Open.
But then came last week’s Zozo Championship in Japan, and for the first time in a long time came the real possibility that Rickie Fowler could win a golf tournament. And he nearly did, finishing just one back of winner Keegan Bradley in a tie for second, bumping him up 54 places to his current No. 106 slot.
It’s been nearly a year since Fowler was last in the top 100, but another top-10 finish should put him there again.
Can Tom Kim continue to dazzle and set PGA Tour records at the CJ Cup?
I don’t think I’m alone in saying that Tom Kim has jumped up my personal list of favorite current players on the PGA Tour in the last few months.
With a pair of victories in his last five starts, not including his entertaining showing at the Presidents Cup, the 20-year-old became just the second golfer in the last 80 years to record two PGA Tour wins before turning 21. The other? Tiger Woods.
And Kim, who doesn’t turn 21 until next June and is already up to No. 15 in the world rankings, beat Tiger to win number two by six months and two days. No player has won three PGA Tour events before age 21 since Horton Smith in 1929.
And how’s this for fun? Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, and Tom Kim are grouped together to open the CJ Cup.
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