Despite holding a four-stroke lead coming into the final round at the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges, Brooks Koepka didn’t have his second regular PGA Tour victory handed to him; he had to go out and earn it.
A rocky start saw his lead cut in half through four holes, but from there, it was a race to the finish as Koepka played his final 14 holes in 9-under par to regain his four-stroke advantage over a charging field that saw Ryan Palmer shoot a 10-under par 62 and Gary Woodland shoot a 9-under par 63.
“I just hung in there. I’m not somebody that’s going to panic if things go the wrong way,” he said. “I just kinda hang in there and wait for my holes; I know I’m going to have some good looks and when I do, you gotta capitalize on them.”
Koepka’s 8-under par round not only garnered the reigning U.S. Open and PGA Champion a winner’s check worth $1.71 million, but also the “dream come true” No .1 ranking in the world.
“My first pro start was in Switzerland and I don’t think I could have said six years later that I would be No.1 in the world,” Koepka said. “It’s incredible. Now, I just need to keep winning. I feel like I need to win a few more regular tour events and then keep adding majors. I feel like my game’s set up for that. I feel like I really have a good chance to win whether I have my ‘A’ game or not. I’m so excited right now, you have no idea. I just can’t wait to go play again.”
Koepka won’t have to wait too long to get back out there and play again. He’ll take a short flight from Korea to Shanghai for next week’s WGC-HSBC Champions, which features a world-class field.
Koepka will tee it up against Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Jason Day, Tommy Fleetwood, Francesco Molinari, Hideki Matsuyama, Jon Rahm and Patrick Reed, among others. The tournament gets underway on Wednesday night from Sheshan International Golf Club.