CJ Cup 2022 leaderboard, scores: Jon Rahm forced to take the lead as Rory McIlroy lurks behind Round 2 at Congaree
While he may no longer hold the honor of being the world’s top player, Jon Rahm attended Friday at the 2022 CJ Cup in South Carolina. After a middleweight performance on Thursday saw him sign with a 2 under 69, the Spaniard put everything into hyperdrive in his second round, riding a hot putter to a record 9 under 62 and share a 36-hole lead with Kurt Kitayama.
Coming in 11th under for the tournament, it’s puzzling to assume that Rahm could have been even lower in Round 2 – but he could have done exactly that. Letting two 10-foot inside birdie opportunities drop to the curb and hit his last hole of the day with a wedge in hand from the middle of the fairway, the dinner of the former world No. may not be as sweet as he had once hoped.
Rahm withdrew with a drop at the age of 18, and not only shared the top spot with Kitayama but was just one stroke away from Cam Davis and Aaron Wise. More dangerous than both previous PGA Tour champions, however, is Rory McIlroy, who has achieved the feat 22 times in his career and is only two times behind the leader after rounds 66-67.
T1. Jon Rahm and Kurt Kitayama (-11)
Not many people know about Kitayama, and this was fully demonstrated in his post-round interview. Members of the media asked how he earned his PGA Tour card this year even though it was his second season and he finished in the top 70 of the 2021-22 FedEx Cup, and it just shows what he can up against over the weekend.
However, to say he’s just a random player drawn from deep in the PGA Tour would be a bit of an understatement. The Las Vegas resident passed the DP World Tour to kickstart his career, a unique path, and was rewarded with a pair of wins in 2019.
He rarely flinches in contention, but what matters is the consistency in which he can keep his spot near the top of the leaderboard. Last year, Kitayama scored three times in the top three at the Scottish Open, Honda Classic and Mexican Open, where he fell to Rahm with a single stroke.
T3. Cam Davis and Aaron Wise (-10)
5. Rory McIlroy (-9)
T6. Lee Hodges, Tyrrell Hatton, KH Lee, Billy Horschel, Tom Hoge, Brendon Todd, Shane Lowry and Tom Kim (-7)
Two days has been strange for Wise, and I mean in the best possible way. After having one of the best singles iron performances of the past decade on Thursday, the former PGA Tour rookie of the year relied heavily on his Friday pitch. Reaching three strokes north on grass in the second round, it will be interesting to see if the 26-year-old can marry both in the final 36 holes.
“Really, just read the green after yesterday’s round. I felt like I misread a few shots so I went out there with my caddy, did a few reading greens, placed some coins out, guaranteed they’ll break my way, Wise said, “Looks like I’ve seen a little better lines today; it’s like what I’m seeing and some of the putts have dropped.”
Jon Rahm is a haunted man
Earlier in the week, I asked Rahm about his hot form on the pitch in his last four tournaments, which he continued in Congaree for the first two days. The Spaniard simply replied: “I am confident” and he showed this confidence in the second half. Reaching 3.5 north on the putt – aside from the putt taken from the green on 16 – the flat is still a ram worth considering, but in a completely different light than before that year.
“Yesterday, I was going out for an early shift with greens that were a little quicker, a little slicker, weren’t they. Those are the good things about greens that you usually find. After using the last few months Rahm said that in Europe and Arizona with so much seeding, I haven’t seen trees like this in a long time. “So it’s one thing to do it on the putting green, and it’s one thing to do it on the field. Yesterday, it seemed like it took me a bit of time to get used to the lawns, but in the end I’ve done it and it’s really, really good, so I’m just moving on today. ”
2022 CJ Cup update odds, picks
Odds via Caesars Sportsbook
- Jon Rahm: October 17
- Rory McIlroy: 33/10
- Aaron Wise: 8-1
- Kurt Kitayama: February 17
- Orange Davis: 9-1
- Tom Kim: 22-1
- Shane Lowry: 30-1
- Tyrrell Hatton: 50-1
- Tom Hoge: 50-1
This tournament is already half way through, and only nine players find themselves at odds of 50-1 or less. There’s a lot of respect at the top of this market, and rightfully so. When given the choice between Rahm and McIlroy versus the pitch, it’s hard not to look in the direction of the two Europeans.
However, there is still a lot of golf to play, and we have seen that big numbers are lurking around Congaree. With this in mind, another European in Shane Lowry seems like a good choice. The Irishman accidentally damaged his putt on the first round and was able to overcome the obstacle with a strong iron play; he’s third in reach and fourth in tee to green. At bottom 7, he’s just four strokes off the lead and has a price tag similar to what he had at the start of the week.