Thomas heads field for first PGA Tour event in South Korea (Oct 18, 2017)

A select group of the world’s top golfers, including Justin Thomas, Adam Scott and Jason Day, are among 29 of the top 50 players from last season’s final FedExCup standings in the field this week at the inaugural CJ Cup, the PGA Tour’s first-ever event in South Korea.

A roster of just 78 players will compete beginning Thursday at the Nine Bridges Golf Club on Jeju Island, South Korea, for a total purse of $9.25 million, with $1.6 million and 500 FedExCup points going to the winner of this no-cut event.

The CJ Cup is a 72-hole stroke play event made up predominantly of PGA Tour players (there were 60 allowed in the field), with additional competitors coming from a variety of Korea PGA and Asian Tour exemptions. PGA Tour members will earn official FedExCup points as part of the 2017-2018 season.

This tournament is the third event of the 2017-18 PGA Tour season and is part of eight competitions during the fall of 2017 and the second of three consecutive events in Asia.

There are 17 countries represented in the field, which is deep and talented and includes 18 of the 30 players who reached the Tour Championship, and 22 of the top 50 in the Official World Golf Rankings.

Heading that group is Thomas, the reigning 2017 FedExCup Champion and PGA Tour player of the year. He has spent the early part of the week getting to know a course that few, if any, have played before.

“If there is not much wind, the scores are going to be pretty low,” Thomas opined. “It’s not very difficult in terms of how wide the fairways are, and with the course being pretty soft we’ll be able to have a lot of control over what we are doing. If the wind picks up, it could be pretty difficult out there with the rough and the greens.

“There’s a lot of drivable holes on the back nine, so someone could make an eagle or make the bogey or whatever it may be. There is a lot of holes that if you drive the ball well you have a great chance of birdie, and then if you miss the fairway you get out of position and will be grinding to try to save par.”

Scott and Day, two former No. 1 players from Australia, begin their tour seasons in this event. Scott (13) and Day (10) have combined to win 23 PGA Tour titles but were both winless in 2016-17.

“It seems like everyone, just recently, has gone through a big skid, where they have played really well for maybe a year or a year and a half being No. 1 of the world, then next person comes along and does exactly the same,” Day said. “Personally, I need to drive it better, I need to have my short game better; wedges, chipping and putting. If I can get those three things back in order where they should be, I feel like I can get back to winning a lot of golf tournaments.”

Also in the field are South Korean Si Woo Kim, last year’s Players Championship winner; American Xander Schauffele, last season’s Rookie of the Year and the first rookie to win the Tour Championship; Anirban Lahiri of India; Thomas Pieters of Belgium; Englishman Paul Casey, who finished 11th in the final FedExCup standings; Patrick Reed (who was also winless last season); and Pat Perez, the four-stroke winner of last week’s CIMB Classic in Malaysia.

The roster of players includes 16 golfers from South Korea, headed by Byeong Hun An, Sangmoon Bae, K.J. Choi, and Sung Kang, as well as three players — Americans James Hahn and Kevin Na, and Danny Lee of New Zealand — who have Korean heritage.

“As a Korean player, to see so many people pleased here at the first official PGA Tour in Korea gives me a great sense of pride but also gives me a lot of motivation,” Choi said. “The Nine Bridge course ranks as one of the top 100 in the world — I would rank within it in the top 15. It’s really well-designed, it’s beautiful. I’m sure all the players who attend this event are going to give their best shot. I am going to give it my best as well.”