The 2017 CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES Tournament Roundup

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The final leaderboard for the 2017 CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES at Nine Bridges Golf Club on Jeju Island, South Korea is in. Justin Thomas edged out runner-up Marc Leishman in a playoff to take home his first win of the season. It’s the 24-year-old’s sixth win in his last 25 starts, and it projects him to move to No. 3 in the official rankings. The CJ Cup is sponsored by CJ Group, and it’s the very first time this tournament was played. Below is the truncated top-10 leaderboard:

(1) Justin Thomas (-9)
(2) Marc Leishman (-9)
(3) Cameron Smith (-8)
(4) Whee Kim (-6)
(T5) Pat Perez (-5)
(T5) Jamie Lovemark (-5)
(T5) Brian Harman (-5)
(T5) Luke List (-5)
(T5) Scott Brown (-5)
(T5) Anirban Lahiri (-5)

Here are some statistics on the champion and other notables near the top of the leaderboard:

Winner: Justin Thomas (-9) – As winner of last year’s FedEx Cup and PGA Tour Player of the Year honours, this marks Thomas’ eighth win on the PGA Tour and sixth in his last 25 starts. Thomas has shown no signs of slowing down from his hot form in the 16-17 season, despite a rather mediocre playing at last week’s CIMB Classic by his standards. His last two wins came at the Dell Technologies Championship in September and the 2017 PGA Championship. In addition to his five wins last season, he has a slew of top-10s and a solo second finish (at the TOUR Championship) to speak of, but he did miss a few cuts as well, including at a major. Consistency is one area Thomas needs improvement in, but he has commented on this recently and I expect him to do better in that regard this season. At this point, Thomas is stealing much of the limelight away from his good buddy Jordan Spieth.

Final round: 4 birdies, 2 bogeys and a double for an even-par 72. He didn’t play spectacularly today, but he hit the shots and made the putts when he needed to. Following a bogey on 17, he needed a birdie or better to have a chance, which he delivered on. In the playoff, played on the par-5 18th, JT and Leishman both parred the first, and then JT birdied the second to secure the title. Scores in regulation: 63, 74, 70, 72 (279).

Marc Leishman (-9) – Not bad for his first start of the new season, right? Leishman’s performance this week comes just over a month after his dominating 5-stroke victory at the 2017 BMW Championship, which he followed with a T24 at the TOUR Championship. This would have been his fourth PGA Tour win and third in less than a year. I admit that after his BMW win, I was a little skeptical that he’d be able maintain his form, since that’s not usually what happens with most Tour pros. His performance this week, however, shows that he’s done a good job of doing so, and it leads me to take him a lot more seriously moving into the immediate future.

Final round: 6 birdies and 4 bogeys for a 2-under 70. His bounce-back birdie after a bogey on 17 (just like JT, coincidentally) got him into the playoff. Unfortunately, he got in the hazard with his second shot on the second playoff hole, resulting in a bogey 6. Scores in regulation: 66, 72, 71, 70 (279).

Honourable mention:

Pat Perez (T5) – winner last week at the CIMB Classic

Have any congratulations for Thomas, or any other thoughts about this year’s CJ Cup? Be sure to leave a comment below!

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