(Reuters) – American Jason Kokrak fired off eight birdies in a flawless final round for his first-ever PGA Tour victory at the CJ Cup in Las Vegas, Nevada on Sunday, clinching his maiden title on the 233rd try.
The 35-year-old outclassed a crowded field of elite performers, carding an eight-under-par 64 at the Shadow Creek Golf Course, draining a 20-foot putt on 10, one of 11 putts he made from further than 10 feet away through 72 holes.
“With the greens being firm, fast and quite a bit of break around these holes, if you don’t have the right speed, you’re not going to make a lot of putts,” said Kokrak, who had four consecutive birdies on the front nine and credited his caddie with helping pick “great reads.”
“Game plan was simple, to hit fairways,” said Kokrak. “I made some nice putts on the front nine and a couple par saves here and there, but I couldn’t be happier.”
The tournament, typically part of the PGA Tour’s Asian swing, was moved to the Las Vegas venue due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and featured a crowded field of top talent warming up for the Masters next month, including four-time PGA Tour winner Xander Schauffele, who finished second.
Schauffele carded a near-flawless 66 with a single bogey on 16, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a disappointing two-over-par third-round performance, “a rookie move” that lost him the lead.
“For me personally, just to know that my really good golf is that good, it will get me a three-, four-shot lead out here, it’s nice to know that I do have it in me to do it,” said the 26-year-old American. “Hopefully I learn next time and I can create an opportunity.”
Elsewhere in the field, 29-year-old Briton Tyrrell Hatton (65) and three-time PGA Tour winner Russell Henley (70) finished tied at third.
(Reporting by Amy Tennery; editing by Richard Pullin)