Playing on a sponsor’s exemption, Martin Laird won his second Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at 250-1 by making a 22-foot birdie on the second playoff hole to defeat Austin Cook and Matthew Wolff. Laird earned his first PGA Tour win at the Shriners in 2009, also in a playoff, and got back into the winner’s circle last weekend for the first time since April 2013 at the Valero Texas Open. He now has a two-year PGA Tour exemption and entries into the Masters, PGA Championship, Players Championship and Sentry Tournament of Champions.
This week marks back-to-back weeks in Las Vegas with a smaller, elite field of 78 players for the CJ Cup. This event was moved from its annual spot in South Korea to Shadow Creek Golf Course due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The field will include 20 of the top 25 in the Official World Golf Rankings. Jon Rahm, world No. 2, is the favorite at 8-1. World No. 3 Justin Thomas, who has won the CJ Cup two of the last three years in South Korea, follows at 10-1. No. 4 Rory McIlroy and No. 8 Xander Schauffele are priced at 12-1. At No. 12, Wolff has been a popular choice early in the week at 18-1, but can he rebound after coming up short in last week’s playoff at TPC Summerlin? No. 14 Patrick Cantlay was the co-leader with Laird after 54 holes, but he started his round poorly and settled for an eighth-place tie. Cantlay is 25-1 along with No. 10 Tyrrell Hatton, last week’s BMW PGA Championship victor on the European Tour; No. 6 Collin Morikawa, a Vegas local; and No. 11 Brooks Koepka, who returns from two months off dealing with hip and knee injuries. Only five players ranked in the top 25 will not be in Las Vegas. World No. 1 Dustin Johnson was a Tuesday afternoon withdrawal due to a positive COVID-19 test. No. 5 Bryson DeChambeau, whose next start is scheduled to be at the Masters in November, No. 7 Webb Simpson, No. 9 Patrick Reed and No. 15 Adam Scott are also out.
The CJ Cup began in 2017 and has been held annually at Nine Bridges Golf Club on Jeju Island, South Korea, but was moved to Shadow Creek Golf Course in Las Vegas this year due to COVID-19. The field consists of 78 players and is a no-cut event. The field is built based on the following criteria:
• Top 60 available players from the previous season’s final FedEx Cup standings.
• Winners of the KPGA Championship and Genesis Championship on the Korean Tour.
• Top three available players from the Korean Tour order of merit.
• Top available player from the Asian Tour order of merit.
• Top available Korean player from the Asian Tour order of merit.
• Top next three available Korean players from the OWGR.
• Eight sponsor exemptions — five restricted to PGA Tour members, one to the winner of a Korean amateur qualifier and two unrestricted.
The sponsor exemptions this week include players who almost never have to use them such as Tommy Fleetwood, Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia, Shane Lowry, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Jordan Spieth and Koepka.