Justin Thomas captures CJ Cup
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.
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.