(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
North Las Vegas, NV – The prestigious Shadow Creek Golf Course caught the world’s attention during “The Match” between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, although most true golf fans have known Steve Wynn’s former course as one of the most exclusive on the planet. Now owned and operated by MGM Resorts International, the jewel in the desert hosted the fourth annual CJ Cup for the first time after previously being held at The Club @ Nine Bridges in South Korea.
Everyone who was lucky enough to be invited would walk away with a cut of the purse, but only Jason Kokrak would play a bogey-free fourth-round towards his very first PGA Tour win including $1.7M, 68 Official World Golf Ranking points, and 500 FedEx Cup points. Kokrak’s knowledge of this difficult course as well as his team put him in a comfortable position each time he stepped up to the tee.
“I think between the team I’ve got in place it was inevitable that it was going to happen,” Kokrak said. “I just tried to go out there today, hit a lot of fairways, give myself a lot of opportunities, and just let the first win come to me.”
Xander Schauffele, World No. 7, kept pace with Kokrak during the final round but his bogey on the par-5 16th proved to be the difference as he finished just two shots behind Kokrak for second.
Kokrak recalled his friendship with Schauffele and the conversations they had throughout the day that kept him at ease.
“To solidify my first win here against a great player like that makes it a little more special,” said Kokrak.
Woods and Mickelson would not be in attendance, as well as World No. 1 Dustin Johnson who had to pull out after testing positive for Covid-19 just days prior. Taking his place would be Tyrrell Hatton, arriving the night before the start of the tournament before finishing tied for third alongside Russell Henley who led heading into Sunday’s final round.
The CJ Cup’s inaugural and most recent winner Justin Thomas finished tied for 12th along with the 2020 PGA Championship winner Collin Morikawa, while the 2018 winner, Brooks Koepka, found himself in a 10-way tie for 28th, displaying the level of difficulty the course hides amongst its scenic landscape.
The CJ Group’s vision for the tournament is to support the development of professional golf in Korea by featuring the highest ranked player of Korean nationality from the Asian Tour Order of Merit, up to five players designated by the KPGA and the top-3 available players of Korean nationality from the Official World Golf Ranking along with the leading players from the FedExCup points list and sponsor exemptions.
by Devin Virissimo