The PGA Tour called on Congaree Golf Club in South Carolina to fill a hole in its 2021 schedule and will do the same this fall.
The Tour needed a replacement tournament for The CJ Cup — usually played in Korea — and will turn to Congaree Golf Club, the private club located in northern Jasper County a few miles off Interstate 95 near Ridgeland. The news was announced Wednesday morning.
The Congaree tournament in 2022 will be called The CJ Cup in South Carolina. Dates are Oct. 16-23, with tournament play Oct. 20-23. Information regarding tickets and volunteer opportunities will be released soon, according to organizers.
“The PGA Tour is thrilled to bring The CJ Cup in South Carolina to the United States this October,” Christian Hardy, the PGA Tour’s senior vice president for international, said in a statement. “This event has provided a great platform on which to showcase golf’s top Korean players, and we are confident that Congaree will once again serve as a fantastic venue for hosting one of the Tour’s premier tournaments.”
The PGA Tour is going into the final months of its wrap-around schedule that ends in the fall, and the 2022-23 slate has not been announced. The previous five CJ Cups have been played in October. Due to the pandemic, the CJ Cup moved out of South Korea to Las Vegas the past two years.
The CJ Cup in South Carolina will have a 78-man field that includes five Korea Professional Golfers’ Association players plus the top three Korean players in the Official World Golf Ranking. The rest of the field will be built from the 2021-22 FedExCup points list and sponsor exemptions. The event will not have a 36-hole cut.
Congaree staged the Palmetto Championship at Congaree in June 2021 when the Tour needed a stop-gap event to replace the RBC Canadian Open, which was canceled by travel restrictions from the coronavirus outbreak.
The CJ Cup will be the state’s second event on the PGA Tour schedule. The annual RBC Heritage tournament will take place in Hilton Head in April of 2023.
The state of South Carolina stepped in and provided $6 million in sponsorship funds and created what CBS announcer Jim Nantz dubbed the South Carolina swing — the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head Island, the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island and the Palmetto Championship.
Duane Parrish, who heads the state of South Carolina’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, spearheaded the effort to bring the 2021 tournament to the state. He took the idea to Gov. Henry McMaster, who approved the expenditure, and similar arrangements — the state providing sponsorship money — are expected on the 2022 tournament.
“For media exposure, we will have 16 (advertising spots) on the Golf Channel on Thursday and Friday and 16 on CBS on Saturday and Sunday,” Parrish said in discussing the 2021 Palmetto Championship at Congaree. “The media exposure includes the social media prior to the tournament. . . . Every time they say ‘South Carolina’ is an advertising spot. We’re not talking about just one area; we’re talking about the entire state.
“Golfers can’t just walk up and play Congaree; it’s a private club,” Parris said. “But the media coverage will illustrate just how much South Carolina has to offer in golf and in tourism. What we get out of the Heritage every year would cost a lot more than $6 million. You just can’t buy that kind of coverage, and we’re targeting a golf audience.”
The Golf Channel has been the primary television outlet in the United States for the PGA Tour’s fall events.
The founders of Congaree, Dan Friedkin and the late Bob McNair, sough to create a new philanthropic model with the course that unites “ambassadors” with a shared purpose to impact positively the lives of young people, locally and around the world, by providing education and vocational opportunities through golf.
Famed architect Tom Fazio designed the course that received rave reviews, and the owners made no secret of big-time ambitions. Their first dealings with the PGA Tour involved bidding to host the 2025 Presidents Cup, which moved to 2026 by the pandemic. Insiders say Congaree made an impressive presentation, but the PGA Tour ultimately chose Medinah No. 3 near Chicago.
The next available Presidents Cup date in the U.S. will be in 2030. Ryder Cup sites in this country have been selected through 2033.
Garrick Higgo, a native of South Africa making his second PGA Tour start, won the Palmetto Championship at Congaree after leader Chesson Hadley lost a two-shot lead with bogeys on his final three holes.
From the beginning, the Palmetto Championship would be a one-time deal, cobbled together at the 11th hour to replace the RBC Canadian Open that returned in 2022.
The Palmetto “is a first step,” Ty Votaw, then the PGA Tour’s executive vice president, said in previewing the 2021 tourney at Congaree. “Whether we have another opportunity, we’ll have to see. We’re fortunate to have a full schedule. But if something comes up and Congaree has a willingness.
“Whether it’s an annual thing or it’s once every four, five, six, seven years, whatever it is, we’re open to it because, again, their commitment to excellence makes it an easy call.”
? The RBC Heritage tournament in Hilton Head will be played April 13-16, 2023
? The CJ Cup will be played at Congaree Golf Club on Oct. 20-23, 2022