CJ Cup Recap: Kokrak wins first PGA Tour event

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Jason Kokrak tees off during the final round of the CJ Cup golf tournament at Shadow Creek Golf Course Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in North Las Vegas. Photo by David Becker/AP Photo.

Jason Kokrak won for the first time on Tour in a star-studded CJ Cup in Las Vegas this past weekend, shooting the best score in Sunday’s final round to capture the victory. Despite starting the day three shots back, he was ultimately able to outlast Xander Schauffele and secure the win. 

Kokrak started his day off strong, carding four straight birdies on the front nine and entering the final nine holes with a two-shot lead. Schauffele then went on a run of his own, recording three straight birdies to tie Kokrak for the lead on the 13th. The pair then entered the 16th hole tied for the lead. Schauffele ended up in the deep rough after his drive, and rather than pitching out into the fairway, he tried to set up a close approach shot but was unable to reach the fairway and stayed in the rough. This led to him making the only bogey of his round, and he was never able to recapture the lead as Kokrak finished off his round with a birdie on the 18th for a Sunday best of 64.  

Russell Henley, the 54-hole leader by three shots, made an early bogey and fell behind during Kokrak’s four birdie run, and he was unable to recover. He shot a 70 to tie for third. Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy, both early favorites for the win, didn’t play very strong golf and closed their disappointing weekends with 74s.  

Kokrak’s victory comes at a perfect time, as this win moves him up to fourth in the FedEx Cup standings and qualifies him for the rescheduled Masters Tournament happening later this year. Schauffele’s second place finish moved him back into the top 10 and into eighth place. 

The Tour’s next event is the ZOZO Championship, where Tiger Woods is the defending champion. He returns to try for his PGA Tour record 83rd tournament, but it will not be easy amidst a star-studded field that includes the top 10 players from last year’s FedEx Cup, including Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Patrick Reed and Colin Morikawa. 

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