Warren JFK’s Jason Kokrak wins CJ Cup to earn first PGA Tour title
NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. (AP) — In his 10th season, in his 233rd tournament, Jason Kokrak can finally call himself a PGA Tour winner.
The John F. Kennedy High School graduate who grew up in Warren 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.
“Couldn’t be happier,” Kokrak said.
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.
“It feels like home,” Kokrak said. “I’ve played this golf course enough that I should know it by now.”
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.