Jeju Island, South Korea: Justin Thomas underlined his reputation as an Asian specialist with a two-stroke success in The CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges.
It was the American’s second triumph at The Club at Nine Bridges and his fourth victory in Asia, having also twice won the CIMB Classic at Malaysia’ TPC Kuala Lumpur.
In total, he now has 11 PGA Tour titles to his name, matching Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy to rank tied for third in Tour history for most wins before the age of 27. The only two players ahead of him are Tiger Woods (34) and Jack Nicklaus (20).
Despite a bogey on 17, Thomas closed with a five-under-par 67 for a four-day aggregate of 20-under 268 to claim top prize in the US$9.75 million championship, the first event in a three-week PGA Tour swing of Asia that also includes tournaments in Japan and China.
Danny Lee, who was born in Korea but grew up in New Zealand, signed off with a 69 to finish alone in second place on 270 with Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, American Gary Woodland and Australian Cameron Smith a further three shots back in a share of third spot.
“It feels great. It was a very tough day. Danny made it extremely difficult. He made a lot of putts, a lot of unbelievable up and downs to kind of keep me from getting all the momentum,” said 26-year-old Thomas, who earned 500 FedEx Cup points.
“I really played solidly today. Other than that bogey on 17, I feel like I did everything I needed to do to win the tournament. It’s very reassuring knowing that I could hit those shots when I needed to the entire day when I felt like the heat was on the whole day.
“It is kind of bizarre knowing that I’ve won four times here (in Asia). I obviously like the golf courses and I feel like they fit my game well. I feel comfortable over here. I think it’s at a good time of year. But I worked really, really hard the last couple weeks to make sure I was ready for this tournament and I was glad that it showed.
“My dad turned 60 last week, so maybe it’s a little 60th birthday gift to him.”