Justin Thomas

CJ Cup: Thomas to make successful defence

The PGA Tour stays in Asia for this week’s CJ Cup in Korea, where the time has come to back a short-priced favourite, Phil Casey writes.

While Sergio Garcia at 4/1 offers little appeal on the European Tour, it is impossible to ignore the case for Justin Thomas to make a successful defence of his title on Jeju Island, where he defeated last week’s winner Marc Leishman in a play-off.

Since missing the cut in the Open at Carnoustie, Thomas has form figures which read 1-6-8-24-12-7-5 and also won four points from five matches at the Ryder Cup, including beating Rory McIlroy in the top singles contest.

The world number four proved he could cope with the varying conditions last year when he led after an opening 63 and then played the next three rounds in level par as the wind made for a different test, while he enjoyed excellent preparation last week with a closing 64.

Backing winners at long odds is always more appealing, but Thomas deserves to be an 11/2 favourite and can be backed to deliver the goods in the outright market.

With Thomas on board we can take a chance on some higher-priced players in the each-way market, starting with Mexico’s Abraham Ancer.

In his second season on the PGA Tour, Ancer finished 60th in the FedEx Cup and ended the campaign in strong fashion with fifth place in the Canadian Open and a top-10 in the Dell Technologies Championship.

The 27-year-old started this season in good form as well with a tie for fifth alongside Thomas in Malaysia after a closing 65 and can be backed at 60/1 to continue where he left off in Korea.

Two players who did not finish so high on the leaderboard last week complete the staking plan, with Jimmy Walker available at 100/1 and Whee Kim at 125/1, both in the each-way market.

Former US PGA champion Walker was 39th in Malaysia but closed with rounds of 68 and 66 after a slow start, while Kim faded to 59th after a promising start but was fourth in this event 12 months ago.

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