21 October 2018: It was a wild goose chase on Sunday at the Nine Bridges Golf Club. The CJ Cup came to a thrilling finish with Brooks Koepka holding firm to march toward his destiny despite some heavy wrangling by Gary Woodland in the final round. Under pressure, Koepka (71-65-67-64) produced a brilliant back nine containing five birdies and an eagle to clinch a four-stroke victory over Woodland. Koepka sank an eagle on the 72nd hole to take the win and with it the top ranking in golf.
A fighting 63 by Woodland was only enough for a second place finish, two strokes behind an unyielding Koepka. The winning score was 21-under 267.
Ryan Palmer (-15) gained 14 spots to climb up to third with a spectacular 10-under 62 on Sunday. He shot seven straight birdies to close out his final round in spectacular fashion. Rafa Cabrera Bello tied with Palmer on the back of a 65 in the final round.
Scott Piercy and Jason Day ended the week at 12-under 276, rounding off the top five at another memorable edition of the PGA TOUR event in Korea.
After starting the day five strokes adrift of Koepka, Woodland turned the screws on with a forceful performance. As Koepka reached the 12th hole, a third of the final round left to deal with, Woodland had done enough to rub shoulders with the lead.
Both men were tied at 15-under and the stage was set for an intriguing finish to the CJ Cup. But Koepka isn’t the kind that gets flustered easily. He responded with typical calm, producing back to back birdies at the 12th to regain control over the lead.
Not to be outdone, Woodland produced his ninth and tenth birdies of the day at the 15th and 16th holes to throw the gauntlet back at Koepka. The duel was assuming tectonic shades by now. There wasn’t too much grass left to burn – Woodland was playing ahead of Koepka and was squeezing his irons to pile on the pressure on his rival.
But Koepka is cast in the gym, a body and mind carved from mindless hours of physically testing work. He refused to blink, glaring right back with Woodland with a fine birdie at the 15th to go 18-under.
The cat and mouse game came to an end when Woodland let himself down with a bogey on the 17th to fall two strokes behind an unflappable Koepka. Just for effect, the three-time major winner added another birdie at the 16th to go three strokes clear. It was a chip in from off the green that symbolised Koepka’s spirit and quality on another great Sunday for golf.
Woodland signed off with a commendable 63, but against an opponent with steel in his body, it proved just short at the end.