Jeju Island, South Korea: In his first start of the 2018-19 season, Brooks Koepka carded an imperious closing back-nine of seven-under 29 to earn his fifth career PGA Tour victory at The CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges.
With the victory, Koepka, the reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year, moves to number one in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in his career, passing Dustin Johnson for the top spot. Koepka has now won three of his last 11 starts on the PGA Tour.
“To be world number one is something I dreamed of as a kid and I don’t think this one’s going to sink in,” said 28-year-old Koepka, who entered the final day at Nine Bridges Golf Club with a four-shot lead, which evaporated into just a share of the lead after turning in one-under 35.
Thanks to his final-nine heroics, including a birdie-birdie-par-eagle finish, he closed out a four-shot victory with a score of 21-under 267. Fellow-American Gary Woodland claimed sole possession of second place on 271.
“I didn’t get off to the best start that I wanted. To play that back nine as well as I did, I didn’t even know I shot 29, but that’s pretty cool.
“I can’t wait to come back next year. This golf course is fantastic. It’s so much fun to play. It really challenged you,” said Koepka, of the award-winning layout sculpted by Golfplan, a Full Business Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.
American Ryan Palmer birdied his last seven holes of the final round to set the course record with a 10-under 62 to finish in a tie for third with Spaniard Rafa Cabrera Bello on 273. The last player to record seven consecutive birdies to close a round was Tony Finau in the second round at the 2015 CareerBuilder Challenge.
Marc Leishman, winner of last week’s CIMB Classic at TPC Kuala Lumpur, moved up to number one in the FedEx Cup standings, by-passing Kevin Tway, with a tied-18th finish after closing with a 66.
Among the 13 Korean players in the field, two-time PGA Tour winner Kim Si-woo finished in the highest spot on the leaderboard at seven-under 281 (tied 23rd).