NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. (AP) — In his 10th season, in his 233rd tournament, Jason Kokrak can finally call himself a PGA Tour winner.
Kokrak earned every bit of it Sunday in the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek. He matched the best round of the tournament with an 8-under 64 to overcome a three-shot deficit at the start and win a duel on the back nine with Xander Schauffele.
The timing couldn’t be better. The CJ Cup moved from South Korea this year to Shadow Creek because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Kokrak is an ambassador for MGM Resorts, which owns the prestigious Tom Fazio design.
Kokrak began to pull away with four straight birdies on the front nine, and birdie putts from 20 feet and 18 feet to start the back nine stretched his lead to two shots.
Schauffele answered with three straight birdies, the last one a 45-footer by using his putter from the thick collar of the 13th green to catch him. Then, it was a matter of who blinked first.
That turned out to be Schauffele on the par-5 16th, when he only managed to advance his shot from deep rough left of the fairway some 85 yards into more rough. Swinging with all his might, his third shot peeled off to the right into more rough well below the green, and he made his only bogey in his round of 66.
Kokrak also was in the left rough, hacked out to the right rough and put his third shot in the bunker. But he splashed it out to just inside 4 feet and made par for a one-shot lead, and Schauffele couldn’t catch up.
Kokrak, a 35-year-old from Ohio, all but clinched it when he drilled his drive into the fairway on the par-5 18th, leaving only a short iron to 25 feet. He two-putted for his final birdie.
ussell Henley, who began the final round with a three-shot lead, closed with a 70 and tied for third with Tyrrell Hatton, who was coming off a victory last week in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. Hatton shot 65.
Kokrak earned a spot in the Masters next month from reaching the Tour Championship a year ago in August. Now he can plan on two trips to Augusta National, qualifying for the 2021 tournament by winning.
PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Phil Mickelson became the third player and second this year to win his first two starts on the PGA Tour Champions, slamming the door on Mike Weir with a back-nine surge in the Dominion Energy Charity Classic.
Mickelson closed with a 7-under 65 to finish at 17-under 199, three strokes better than second-round leader Weir, the fellow 50-year-old left-hander who had a 71. Mickelson was a stroke off the tournament record set last year by Miguel Angel Jimenez.
The winner in late August at Ozarks National in Missouri in his first start on the 50-and-over tour, Mickelson joined Bruce Fleischer and Jim Furyk as the only players to win in their first two senior events. Fleischer accomplished the feat in 1999 and Furyk did it this year with victories at The Ally Challenge and Pure Insurance Championship.
Mickelson, who hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since early 2019 at Pebble Beach, plans to return to the PGA Tour next week for the Zozo Championship in California. After a week off, he’ll play in the Houston Open as his final preparation for the Masters on Nov. 12-15.
FIFE, Scotland (AP) — Adrian Otaegui of Spain won the Scottish Championship for his first stroke-play title on the European Tour, closing with a 9-under 63 for a four-stroke victory.
Otaegui’s previous two victories were match-play events — and one of them was in Scotland, too, at the Paul Lawrie Match Play in 2017. His other was at the Belgian Knockout the following year.
Otaegui had eight birdies in an 11-hole stretch. He finished at 23-under 265 at Fairmont St. Andrews.
Third-round leader Matt Wallace was second after a 71.
ICHEON, South Korea (AP) — Hyo Joo Kim won the KB Financial Group Star Championship, closing with a 3-over 75 for an eight-stroke victory over top-ranked Jin Young Ko in the final Korean LPGA major of the season.
Kim, ranked 11th in the world, finished at 9-under 279 in the wire-to-wire victory at Black Stone Golf Course. She has 12 KLPGA Tour victories, this first as an amateur, and has three LPGA Tour titles.
Ko finished with a 71.
PGA TOUR OF AUSTRALASIA
FREMANTLE, Australia (AP) — Australian amateur Hayden Hopewell won the Nexus Risk WA Open at Royal Fremantle Golf Club, birdieing the final three holes at his home club for a one-stroke victory.
The 18-year-old Hopewell closed with a 4-under 68 to finish at 7-under 209. He also won the Tasmanian Open and Western Australian Amateur this year.
Fellow amateur Haydn Barron was second after a 68.
PGA OF AMERICA
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) — Former PGA Tour player Omar Uresti won the Senior PGA Professional Championship by six strokes, closing with a 3-under 69 on the Wanamaker Course for a tournament-record 18-under 269 total.
The 51-year-old Uresti became the fourth player to win a PGA Professional Championship (2017) and a Senior PGA Professional national title. Defending champion Scott Hebert was second after a 67.
The top 35 finishers at PGA Golf Club earned spots in the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship in May at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma.