Oct 19th, 2020
Jason Kokrak captures the CJ Cup
American finally tastes victory on the PGA Tour after a ten-year wait
Words: GolfPunk Photography: Getty Images / PGA Tour
"Couldn't be happier," said Kokrak.
"Game plan was simple – hit fairways. Gave myself more opportunities than I had the past couple days and I took advantage of them."
Kokrak and Schauffele were paired in the penultimate group alongside Jason Day who had to pull out after only two holes with a stiff neck. The impact on the pace of play did not seem to bother Kokrak as he stormed to the turn in 31 shots with four consecutive birdies from the fifth tee.
When the world number fifty-three fired in two more birdies at the 9th and 10th holes, he went two clear. However, Schauffele was not finished and hit back with three straight birdies to reel in Kokrak.
The pair stood on the 14th tee tied at the top but it would be Schauffele who made the first mistake. Finding the thick rough at the long 16th hole he would visit the rough two more times as he hacked his way up the hole to an eventual bogey.
Kokrack also struggled up the 16th hole but an up and down from a greenside bunker for par saw him walk off the green one shot ahead, a lead he would not relinquish. A routine birdie at the par five 18th hole ensured the victory and the end of the ten-year wait.
"Ten years out here on the PGA Tour's been a long career so far, so to wait so long for my first win, it's a pretty special thing," Kokrak said.
Schauffele, who had led after 36 holes but stumbled to a third round 74 was gracious in defeat.
"It was a good fight," Schauffele said.
"He beats the crap out of (the ball). Like I said, he's a foot taller than I am, swings it Ernie Els smooth‑type swing. I couldn't be happier for him. I think what proved was he finally started rolling in some putts and it kind of shows how dangerous he can be out here."
England's Tyrrell Hatton, who had led after the first round, closed with a 65 to finish in joint third alongside overnight leader Russell Henly who shot a final round 70.
Hatton had flown out to Las Vegas following his victory at the BMW PGA Championship on the European Tour and must be happy with his weeks work although like Schauffele he will be ruing a poor third round of 73 on Saturday.
Talor Gooch of America shot 68 to finish at 16 under and sole ownership of fifth place. Joaquin Niemann of Chile charged through the field with a closing 66 to finish three shots further back in sixth, a shot clear of American pair, Bubba Watson and Lanto Griffin
Elsewhere, defending champion Justin Thomas shot 74 to finish tied- twelfth at eight-under alongside the English duo of Ian Poulter and Matthew Fitzpatrick, Viktor Hovland of Norway and PGA Champion Collin Morikawa.