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The Takeaway

Thomas wins inaugural CJ CUP

by Mo Yoshimoto
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET


Jeju Island, Korea



First-round leader and third-round co-leader Justin Thomas tacked on an even-par 37-35=72 in the final round of the inaugural CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES to match Marc Leishman on 9-under 279, and then defeated him with birdie on the second playing of the par-5 18th in sudden death, improving to 5-for-7 converting as 54-hole leader/co-leader.


The 24-year-old, top-ranked this week in OWGR and the pre-tourney fave outright (15/2), bags his seventh PGA TOUR title in 96 career events (92 pro), first in extra time, improving to 1-0 in sudden death. It's his first win of the season in his second start after T17 as defender at last week's CIMB Classic.


The Kentuckian bumps one spot to a career-high 3rdin OWGR, 0.9158 average points behind World No. 2 Jordan Spieth, and 2.2335 average points behind No. 1 Dustin Johnson.


NOTE: Johnson nor Spieth have yet to tee it up this season and DJ is the only one of the trio that is in the published field at this coming week’s WGC-HSBC in China.


Leishman, making his season debut, closed with 2-under 36-34=70 out of the penultimate threesome. He nabs his fifth career runner-up in his 225th career start, first since P2 in a four-hole aggregate playoff at the 2015 Open Championship 56 starts ago. Overall, it’s the Aussie’s 13th career top-3 finish and drops to 0-2 in playoffs.


Cameron Smith, a first-round leader at last week’s CIMB, shot 2-under 35-35=70 for solo 3rd, one back, while Korea’s Whee Kim shot even-par 35-37=72 for solo 4th, three adrift.



Final Leaderboard:


P1- Justin Thomas (-9) 63-74-70-72= 279

P2- Marc Leishman (-9) 66-72-71-70= 279

3rd- Cameron Smith (-8) 69-68-73-70= 280

4th- Whee Kim (-6) 68-70-72-72= 282



Six players tied for 5th place, including last week’s CIMB winner Pat Perez, who closed with bogey-free 68, the only blemish-free lap in the finale.



Thomas collects 500 FedExCup (FEC) points for the victory and jumps 30 spots to 3rdin the FEC standings, 42 points behind new-leader Perez.



Updated Top 10 in FEC standings (points):



1. Pat Perez (590); UP one

2. Brendan Steele (556); DOWN one

3. Justin Thomas (548); UP 30

4. Tony Finau (333); DOWN one

5. Keegan Bradley (309); DOWN two

6. Marc Leishman (300); UP 118

7. Cameron Smith (295); UP five

8. Sung Kang (173); DOWN three

9. Nick Taylor (167)

10. Xander Schauffele (165); DOWN four




One week after finishing T17 at the CIMB as defender/defender and pre-tourney fave outright (4/1) – where he admitted to being “burnt out” – Thomas bags THE CJ CUP as a pre-tourney fave outright.





In the last 96 events on TOUR, the pre-tourney fave/co-fave has won SEVEN times, including Thomas this week. That’s a conversion percentage of just 7.29%. Below are the most recent odds faves/co-faves to win, prior to Thomas:





47 tournaments

4 pre-tourney faves won:



Stenson: 14/1 Wyndham (co-fave)

Spieth: 12/1 The Open

Spieth: 8/1 Travelers

D. Johnson: 13/2 WGC-Mexico



Other than the Hero World Challenge (Nov. 30 – Dec. 3), Thomas is done for the calendar year. Look for him to defend the Sentry Tournament of Champions Jan. 4 – 7 on Maui. He’s going to give someone else a chance to win.





Thomas’ 7 wins:



2018: CJ CUP (54-hole co-leader)

Shot: even-par 72

Winning Margin: PLAYOFF

Career Start: 96 (92 pro)

Starts In Between Wins: 4


2017: Dell Technologies (54-hole co-leader)

Shot: 5-under 66

Winning Margin: 3 shots

Career Start: 92

Starts In Between Wins: 2


2017: PGA Championship (come from behind, 2-shot deficit)

Shot: 3-under 68

Winning Margin: 2 shots

Career Start: 90

Starts In Between Wins: 16

Major Start: 10


2017: Sony Open (54-hole leader)

Shot: 5-under 65

Winning Margin: 7 shots (wire-to-wire)

Career Start: 74

Start In Between Wins: 1


2017: SBS TOC (54-hole leader)

Shot: 4-under 69

Winning Margin: 3 shots

Career Start: 73

Starts In Between Wins: 2


2017: CIMB Classic (come from behind, 4-shot deficit)

Shot: 8-under 64

Winning Margin: 3 shots

Career Start: 71

Starts In Between Wins: 28


2016: CIMB (54-hole co-leader)

Shot: 6-under 66

Winning Margin: 1 shot

Career Start: 43 (second TOUR season)



Thomas has now won seven times in his last 53 starts. Win percentage during that span: 13.2%.


Further, he’s won six times in his last 25 starts. Win percentage during that span: 24.0%.


The Alabama product won the FedExCup last season for the first time and was voted PGA TOUR Player of the Year by his peers.



Thomas’ 2016-17 Season:


25 starts

19 made cuts

6 missed cuts


14 top 25s

12 top 10s

9 top 5s

5 wins (one major)

FEC Rank: 1




Field Scoring Average:



This was the 1stplaying of THE CJ CUP, 1stat NINE BRIDGES GC, and the first-ever regular TOUR event in South Korea. The last time the TOUR was in Korea was for the 2015 Presidents Cup:



7,196 yards; par 72 (36-36)



R1: 70.949

R2: 73.346

R3: 74.792

R4: 73.688


Total: 73.187


Thomas: 63-74-70-72

Leishman: 66-72-71-70



NOTE: No strokes gained stats at CJ CUP




Thomas’ Position by Round:


R1: 1st 

R2: T4  

R3: T1

R4: T1



Leishman’s Position by Round:


R1: T2

R2: T6

R3: T3

R4: T1




Thomas and Leishman are the two hottest players right now. Dating back to the PGA Championship nine tournaments ago, Thomas has four top-2 finishes in seven starts, three wins; Leishman has three top-3 finishes in six starts, one win:


Thomas’ Form: P1-T17-2-T47-1-T6-1


Leishman’s Form: P2-T24-1-3-CUT-T13


The duo were 54-hole co-leaders – and final-round playing competitors – at the Dell (2nd leg of the Playoffs), which Thomas won and Leishman finished 3rd. Leishman then claimed the 3rd leg of the Playoffs at the BMW Championship in wire-to-wire fashion.




How Thomas Won on Sunday:



After kicking off in 63-74-70, he began T1 with playing competitor Scott Brown (76), two clear of Leishman (one group ahead).


The reigning FedExCup champ found nine (of 14) fairways and 14 greens in regulation, posting 1.857 putts per GIR and 31 total putts. He played his first eight in birdie-less 2-over, eating double bogey-7 at 3, but got back on track with a hat-trick of circles at 9-11.


Thomas squared 13 and 17 before a 2-putt birdie-4 at 18 secured the playoff. He had a 12-footer for eagle on the 72nd hole to win, but clipped the right edge of the cup.


In extra time, the duo halved the first playing of the 18th with pars, both after errant tee shots. Thomas’ was a sand-save 5 from a greenside bunker while Leishman a 2-putt version, missing a mid-range birdie try for the win.


Leishman, from the fairway 257 yards out, found water with his second on the second playing of the 18th, eventually squaring 6. Thomas, from the fairway 243 yards away, smoked his second to the front fringe about 30 feet from the pin and used the flat stick two times from there for the birdie-winner.




How Thomas Won the Tournament:



On a perfect day for scoring, a week-low 9-under 63 in R1 did the trick. Interestingly, that would end up being the winning total (9-under), playing his final 54 holes in even-par when the temperatures cooled and the winds kicked up.




Thomas’ Weekly Stats (ranking of 77 players):



Eagles: 2 (T1)

Birdies: 19 (T3)

Bogeys: 10 (T12)

Double Bogeys: 2 (T41)


Par-3 Scoring: 3.19 (T41)

Par-4 Scoring: 3.93 (T3)

Par-5 Scoring: 4.44 (3rd)


Driving Accuracy: 40/56 (T39) at 71.43%

GIR: 49/72 (T44) at 68.06%

Putts per GIR: 1.735 (5th)

Total Putts: 115 (T1)

Putts by Round: 26-30-28-31

Scrambling: 12/23 (T34) at 52.17%




Updated Top 10 in OWGR:



With a Strength of Field rating of 343, Thomas banks 50.00 world-ranking points and nudges one place to a career-high 3rdin OWGR.



1. Dustin Johnson

2. Jordan Spieth

3. Justin Thomas; UP one

4. Hideki Matsuyama; DOWN one

5. Jon Rahm

6. Rory McIlroy

7. Rickie Fowler

8. Jason Day; UP one

9. Henrik Stenson; DOWN one

10. Sergio Garcia; UP one



NOTE: Garcia won the Valderrama Masters hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation. It’s his third worldwide win in 2017, first since his playoff win at the 2017 Masters, and his 14th European Tour title in 268 career starts.




Other Notable Career Highs in OWGR:



Marc Leishman: 12th (UP 4)

Pat Perez: 18th (UP two)

Scott Brown: 111th (UP 14)

Whee Kim: 145th (UP 60)






No draw. Limited-field no-cut event




Low Rounds:



R1: Justin Thomas (63)

R2: Seung-Yul Noh (65)

R3: Byeong Hun An (67)

R4: Pat Perez (68)




Bogey-free Rounds:



R1: Chez Reavie (66); Charles Howell III (67)

R2: Seung-Yul Noh (65); Luke List (67)

R3: None

R4: Pat Perez (68)


NOTE: 310 rounds played: 5 bogey-free (1.6%)




Leader/co-leaders by Round:



R1: Justin Thomas (P1): Improves to 3-for-4 as 18-hole leader/co-leader (three straight)


R2: Luke List (T5): Drops to 0-for-2 as 36-hole leader/co-leader


R3: Justin Thomas (P1): Improves to 5-for-7 as 54-hole leader/co-leader (two straight)

R3: Scott Brown (P1): Drops to 1-for-4 as 54-hole leader/co-leader


R4: Justin Thomas (P1): Improves to 1-0 in sudden death

R4: Marc Leishman (P2): Drops to 0-2 in sudden death






Last season, 41 (of 48) winners were 33-years-old or younger


28 winners were in their 20s

15 were in their 30s

5 were in their 40s



Through 3 events this season:


1 winner was in their 20s (Thomas, age: 24)

1 was in their 30s

1 was in their 40s




TOUR Rookies &/or First-Timers:



TOUR Rookies: 0

Top-10 finishes: N/A



As an invitational, no TOUR rookies qualified or were invited to play on sponsor exemptions.



First-Timers: EVERYONE



Field Breakdown:



8 of the Top 25 in OWGR were in the field

3 finished in the top 10


20 of the Top 50 OWGR

4 finished in the top 10:



NOTE: The field-average OWGR was 126th; average OWGR for the top-10 finishers: was 82nd:



No. 4 Justin Thomas (P1); top-ranked OWGR

No. 16 Marc Leishman (P2)

No. 20 Pat Perez (T5)

No. 32 Brian Harman (T5)



Other Top-10 Finishers:


No. 65 Anirban Lahiri (T5)

No. 86 Jamie Lovemark (T5)

No. 124 Cameron Smith (3rd)

No. 125 Scott Brown (T5)

No. 138 Luke List (T5)

No. 205 Whee Kim (T5)


NOTE: Whee Kim was one of 17 Koreans in the 78-man field and the only top-10 finisher. Byeong Hun An was next-best with T11, followed by K.T. Kim (T28)



Other Notables:


No. 9 Jason Day (T11)

No. 14 Paul Casey (T19)

No. 21 Rafa Cabrera Bello (T11)

No. 23 Patrick Reed (T11)

No. 25 Adam Scott (25th)


No. 27 Daniel Berger (T54)

No. 29 Xander Schauffele (T72)

No. 45 Tony Finau (T26)




Consecutive Top 10s on TOUR:



Jordan Spieth (T7-T7-2-P2)

Jon Rahm (T7-T5-T4-T3)

Justin Rose (T10-T2-T10-T10)

Anirban Lahiri (T5-T10-T9)

Cameron Smith (3-T5)

Pat Perez (T5-1)

Matt Kuchar (T10-T5)




Consecutive Top-10 streaks ended:



Tony Finau (T26-2-T7-T7)

Xander Schauffele (T72-T3-1)

Paul Casey (T19-T7-5)