The 2017 US PGA champion Justin Thomas birdied the second extra hole of his playoff against Aussie Marc Leishman to win the inaugural PGA Tour’s $9.25 million CJ Cup@Nine Bridges on Jeju island, South Korea. Both players scored a nine-under-par 279 for the four rounds of the Tour’s first regular season event in South Korea, a shot better than Cameron Smith in third, with home hope Kim Whee in fourth spot, two strokes further back on six-under.
Thomas closed with an even par 72 while Leichman picked up two shots with a 70 in the final round. After both players carded matching pars on the first extra hole – the complicated 18th which green will be recontoured for the 2nd edition of the tournament, Australian Leishman leaked his second shot into the water right of the green as the pair came down the closing hole for a third time on Sunday.
Despite seeing his opponent’s ball splash down in the garding pond, Justin Thomas opted against laying-up and kept faith with a wood, battering his second shot from 243 yards just short of the green.
The 2017 FedExCup champion’s eagle putt would come up short, like on the regular last round, but his birdie was more than enough to beat Leishman’s bogey six. “It was tough out there today, for the last three days. This superb course turned out to become quite fierce with the wind. So I’ve stayed really patient and stedy during the two last rounds, specially today with Marc breathing in my neck although playing in front of me” said the smiling 24-year-old champion.
”It felt really good to hit two good shots there on the 18th in regulation. I had to putt with a chance to win it, but my first one was rather weak».
Both the players were back the 18th Tee box. Two fine 3-woods for Justin, a detour by the pond for the Aussie and the Thomas Crowned affair was over. What’s next for the best PGA Tour of 2017? «I’m really excited to do nothing for a while,” was his last word.
Scott Brown (76), the overnight co-leader with Thomas, endured a final round to forget with back-to-back double bogeys at the fourth and fifth derailing his title hopes, while Anirban Lahiri (74) was leading after going two-under through 13 holes, but dropped four shots over the closing five holes. Both players finished on five-under 283, tied for fifth with Jamie Lovemark (71), Brian Harman (71), Luke List (72) and last week’s CIMB Classic champion Pat Perez (68). P.R./pph