The Korea Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Kim Jeong-kyoo Kim Jeong-kyoo is a Korea Times golf colum­nist.

The CJ Cup at Nine Bridges, the lone PGA Tour stop on Korean soil, will take place at the Club at Nine Bridges on Jeju. Start­ing Oct. 17, the four-day event will be its third edi­tion.

The CJ Cup at Nine Bridges, the lone PGA Tour stop on Korean soil, will take place at the Club at Nine Bridges on Jeju. Start­ing Oct. 17, the four-day event will be its third edi­tion.

As a batch of the world’s big names comes to jos­tle for the ti­tle, golf fans are im­pa­tient to see how each of the four days would start and end. They are won­der­ing who would be the last com­peti­tor stand­ing in the spot­light, hold­ing the tro­phy proudly aloft.

The unique PGA Tour event staged in Korea fea­tures a star-stud­ded 78-man field with no cuts. The field em­braces such big celebri­ties as World No. 1 Brooks Koepka and five-time ma­jor cham­pion Phil Mick­el­son.

Koepka who won the CJ Cup in his first ap­pear­ance last year is de­fend­ing his PGA Tour ti­tle. “I am ex­cited to par­tic­i­pate in the CJ Cup once again,” he said. “I will try my best to gain a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive vic­tory at the up­com­ing tour­na­ment.”

The 29-year-old long hit­ter fired an 8-un­der 64 in the fi­nal round last year for a win­ning score of 21-un­der 267.

Koepka played the back nine in a 7-un­der 29, cap­ping the par-5 clos­ing hole with an ea­gle af­ter reach­ing the green in two. He notched a four-stroke vic­tory, deny­ing the run­ner-up, Gary Wood­land, who threat­ened to sup­plant him three times dur­ing the fi­nal round.

For Mick­el­son, this is his first ap­pear­ance in Korea since the Pres­i­dents Cup held in In­cheon in 2015. Mick­el­son, al­ready a mem­ber of the World Golf Hall of Fame, said he was look­ing for­ward to see­ing en­thu­si­as­tic golf fans in South Korea again. Golf en­thu­si­asts through­out the world re­spect him as a liv­ing le­gend of golf.

Of great in­ter­est to Korean golf devo­tees is home hope Im Sung-jae could dom­i­nate the theater of the four-act race. Im, born and bred on Jeju Is­land, comes back to show his honed met­tle in a push to notch the ti­tle in his home­town.

He is one of the strong fa­vorites to gain PGA Rookie of the Year this sea­son.

Im said, “It’s go­ing to be an honor if I can win Rookie of the Year, be­com­ing the first Asian and Korean male player to win the award.” Equally seek­ing the ti­tle on their home soil are Choi Kyung-ju and Kim Si-woo.

Choi notched eight ca­reer ti­tles in the PGA Tour and plans on play­ing on the Cham­pi­ons Tour from 2020. Kim, 24, won the 2017 Play­ers Cham­pi­onship to be­come the youngest ever win­ner of the event at age 21.

No­table two big names play­ing in the unique PGA Tour stop in the Korean Penin­sula in­clude Gar­cia and Spi­eth.

Span­ish pro­fes­sional golfer Ser­gio Gar­cia is a 10-time PGA Tour win­ner and the 2017 Masters Tour­na­ment cham­pion. Amer­i­can pro Jor­dan Spi­eth holds three ma­jor ti­tles among his 11-ca­reer Tour wins. The two world stars make their Korea de­but ap­pear­ances.

Aus­tralian pro Ja­son Day, 31, makes his third suc­ces­sive ap­pear­ance on Jeju. He fin­ished tied fifth and 11th in the pre­vi­ous two years. He notched 12 PGA Tour ti­tles in­clud­ing the 2016 PLAY­ERS cham­pi­onship. He was the World No. 1 in the World Golf Rank­ing in September 2015.

Eng­land’s four-time Eu­ro­pean Tour win­ner, Tommy Fleet­wood also makes his maiden start.

He will share his time with chil­dren nur­tured by “Bridgekids,” a youth de­vel­op­ment pro­gram un­der the wing of CJ Corporatio­n. The World No. 16, Fleet­wood said: “I’m very happy to meet young golfers from Korea. I hope they can spend qual­ity time with me. I’ve heard Jeju can get pretty windy just like my home­town in Eng­land. I hope I can use the wind wisely.”

Pa­trick Reed, the 2018 Masters win­ner, tus­sles for the crown for the sec­ond time fol­low­ing a T11 fin­ish in 2017. He won the North­ern Trust in Au­gust, bring­ing his PGA ca­reer-win to­tal to seven.

Other com­peti­tors in­clude two of the PGA Tour’s young stars, Matthew Wolff and Collin Morikawa.

The CJ Cup purse to­tals $9.75 mil­lion this year, with the win­ner earn­ing roughly $1.72 mil­lion.

Justin Thomas is the first cham­pion. He de­feated Marc Leish­man in an en­thralling play-off to make his name etched in his­tory as the win­ner of the first CJ Cup in 2017.

The com­pe­ti­tion leaves golf en­thu­si­asts im­pa­tient and agog. Let’s have the pa­tience to wait and see who climbs to tri­umph and holds the tro­phy aloft.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Korea, Republic

© PressReader. All rights reserved.