Justin Thomas cap­tures CJ Cup

The Korea Times - - SPORTS -

JEJU — Amer­i­can PGA Tour star Justin Thomas has won in South Korea for the sec­ond time.

Thomas cap­tured the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges in Jeju Is­land on Sun­day, hold­ing off Korean-born Kiwi Danny Lee by two strokes af­ter a see­saw fi­nal round that un­folded like a match play between the two overnight co-lead­ers.

Thomas carded a five-un­der 67 in the fi­nal round to fin­ish at 20-un­der 268.

Thomas and Lee re­mained dead­locked for 13 holes, be­fore Thomas birdied the 14th to take the lead for good.

Lee bo­geyed the 15th and 16th, as poor tee shots took him out of con­tention down the stretch.

Thomas won the in­au­gu­ral CJ Cup in 2017. He now has 11 ti­tles in his PGA Tour ca­reer, four of them hav­ing come in Asia.

Thomas took home US$1,755,000. The $9.75 mil­lion tour­na­ment held on the 7,241-yard Club at Nine Bridges had a field of 78 play­ers, with no cut.

Thomas and Lee were tied at 15-un­der through 54 holes.

This was the 11th tour­na­ment in which Thomas held or shared the lead af­ter three rounds, and he has now con­verted eight of them into vic­to­ries.

Thomas threw down the gaunt­let with a birdie on the open­ing hole, and he opened up a two-stroke lead with a birdie at the par-5 third. Lee had three con­sec­u­tive pars to start his round.

But Lee caught Thomas with a two-shot swing at the fourth hole, with the com­bi­na­tion of Lee’s birdie from just off the green and Thomas’ bo­gey knot­ting the co-lead­ers at 16-un­der.

Lee took the sole pos­ses­sion of the lead at 17-un­der at the par-3 sev­enth, thanks to a long birdie putt. Thomas barely kept his tee shot out of the wa­ter haz­ard there and was lucky to get away with a par.

Thomas an­swered right back with a birdie at the eighth. Lee found trou­ble to the left off the tee but still saved par, as the two were again tied for the lead at 17-un­der.

Thomas and Lee matched each other with birdies at the par-5 ninth, and made the turn all even at 18-un­der.

They ex­changed pars at the first two holes on the back nine, and both had birdies at the par-5 12th.

Thomas then seized the lead at 20-un­der with a birdie at the 14th, while Lee, who’d been fight­ing his drive all day, pushed his tee shot to the right rough and had to scram­ble for par.

Lee dropped an­other shot back at the 15th. He drove into a fair­way bunker, and his sec­ond shot landed in an­other bunker next to the green. Lee punched it out to the green but two-putted for his first bo­gey of the round.

Lee went from one bunker to an­other at the 16th hole, en route to his sec­ond con­sec­u­tive bo­gey. Thomas made par to open up a three-shot lead with two holes to play.

Thomas gave Lee some life at the par-3 17th, where he missed the green to the right and had a long par putt lip out.

Thomas and Lee headed to the par5 18th hole sep­a­rated by two strokes, with their third-round drama there from 24 hours ear­lier still fresh on many peo­ple’s minds.

On Satur­day, Thomas was lead­ing Lee by three shots stand­ing at the 18th tee.

But Thomas sent his sec­ond shot into the wa­ter en route to a bo­gey, and Lee im­prob­a­bly pulled into a tie by drain­ing a long ea­gle putt.

Lee al­most wrote an­other script Sun­day.

Af­ter putting his sec­ond shot to the cen­ter of the green, Lee took dead aim at the cup, but his ea­gle at­tempt caught the edge and lipped out.

Thomas then two-putted for his ti­tle-clinch­ing birdie.

No South Korean has won the CJ Cup. An Byeong-hun was the top lo­cal player as he fin­ished tied for sixth at 13-un­der 275.

Yon­hap

Justin Thomas of the United States poses with his tro­phy af­ter win­ning the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges PGA tour golf tour­na­ment at Nine Bridges Golf Club on Jeju is­land, Sun­day.

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