Early Trouble Gives Pappas Three-Shot Edge
Pappas, the third of the four golfing brothers from Phalaborwa, fired a five-under-par 67, the same as runner-up Don Gammon, who had started the final day three shots adrift, to record a 19-under-par total of 269.
It was a day of high drama which came close to descending into farce when one of his third round co-leaders, Sammy Daniels, did his Jean van de Velde impression, shedding his footwear at the par-four 15th to hit his second out of a water hazard en route to a bogey five.
That brought to nine the number of strokes Daniels had shed in a rollercoaster round of 75 that also included six birdies. His unscheduled paddling session had been preceded by a triple-bogey six at the 12th and another six, this time a double, at the next.
Pappas, who lives in Orlando, Florida, said his concentration hadn't been affected by Daniels' tribulations. (My caddie) Mark (McCann) and I just stood there and talked about whatever came to mind. That's the way it goes. Sometimes you've just got to wait and get back into your routine when it's your turn,' he said.
His other playing partner, Pretoria rookie Martin Maritz, was also struggling.
He started the day bogey, double-bogey, a shot worse than Daniels' bogey-bogey at the first two holes, all of which allowed Pappas to jump into a three-shot lead after a birdie at the first hole, which proved one of the toughest on the new lay-out all week.
Daniels did get back to within a shot at one stage, after a birdie two at the seventh, before his round imploded, but the real challenges to Pappas' leadership came from further down the field, particularly from Gammon, who had held a share of the halfway lead after Friday's second round. Out in four-under-par 32 to Pappas' 34 - the eventual winner made his only major mistake with a three-putt at the ninth for his sole bogey - Gammon birdied the par-five 11th hole to draw level with Pappas, who was playing the 10th, at 16 under.
Gammon's share of top spot was a shortlived one, however. When his turn came at 11, which he said was 'playing the longest it had all week' because the wind had shifted and was blowing into the players, Pappas rammed in a 35-footer for eagle to jump out to a two-shot advantage which was never cut. A birdie three at the 16th, which he described as 'probably the toughest hole out there today, with the pin in the back corner', finally assured him of what he described as 'definitely' his biggest win. His previous professional victories had consisted of 'a couple of mini-tour wins' in the United States and the Cleveland Open on last year's BUY.COM tour.
'The key today was to make no mistakes, no mental errors. We kept it in play all day,' he said, using the collective term to include his trusty caddie, who started out teaching him and has been on the bag for a couple of years now.
Clearly not a man given to great displays of emotion, the 33-year-old was nevertheless delighted to have broken his duck on home soil with such a prestigious title. 'I had a look at the trophy there and it's got all the great names,' he said.
With Daniels and Maritz, who made a 71 for a share of third place, falling off the pace, Sunday was an opportunity for players further back to come through the field and several took advantage, none more so than Roodepoort's Hendrik Buhrmann, who equalled the course record with a seven-under-par 65 and saw a 25-foot birdie putt lip out on the 18th to rob him of a 64. He finished four back, level with Maritz, Alan McLean and Nic Henning.
Ireland's Peter Lawrie matched Buhrmann's round, moving from one under par to a share of 20th spot on a 72-hole total of 280.
Koepka primed for CJ Cup win and world No. 1
Brooks Koepka wants a 2-for-1 at the CJ Cup. If he can collect his second non-major PGA Tour victory he can become world No. 1 for the first time in his career.
He’s in great position to accomplish his goal.
Koepka eagled the par-5 18th en route to a 7-under 65 in the second round at Nine Bridges in Juju Island, South Korea. At 8 under par, he is one back of 36-hole leader Scott Piercy (65).
Koepka, currently ranked third in the world, began the day three shots off the lead, but rapidly ascended the leaderboard. He birdied four of his first eight holes before finding trouble at the ninth. Koepka hooked his tee shot out of bounds, but the ninth is a par 5 and he was able to salvage bogey.
That was his only dropped shot of the day.
The reigning Tour Player of the Year birdied the 12th and 14th holes in his bid to keep pace with Piercy. Koepka was two back as he played his final hole, where he knocked his second shot to 10 feet. He deftly converted the eagle effort to tie Piercy and earn a spot in Saturday’s final twosome. Piercy later pulled a shot ahead with a birdie at the ninth, his final hole of the day.
Koepka has officially won four PGA Tour events, but three of those are majors (2017, ’18 U.S. Open; 2018 PGA). His lone non-major win was the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open.
He can still reach world No. 1 with a solo second place, assuming Justin Thomas, currently world No. 4, doesn’t win this week.
That will take a mighty weekend effort by the defending champ.
Thomas also eagled the 18th hole to go from 1 over to 1 under. He shot 2-under 70 in the second round and is seven shots off the lead.
'Go in'? Yes, JT wants an ace at the par-4 14th
Justin Thomas didn’t hesitate after hitting his tee shot on the 353-yard, par-4 14th in Round 2 of the CJ Cup.
“Go in,” he immediately said.
“Please go in,” he added.
Thomas’ tee shot was on a great line, but it landed just short of the green. Surprisingly, it took three more shots for his ball to "go in." After birdies on Nos. 12 and 13, Thomas parred the 14th.
Watch: Dufner makes six (!) fist pumps after birdie
Jason Dufner makes Ben Stein seem like Jonathan Winters. Dufner often looks mighty miserable for someone who plays golf for a living.
But not on Friday at the CJ Cup!
Dufner made a 20-footer for birdie at the 16th hole and “celebrated” with one-two-three-(pause)-four-five-six fist pumps. There could have been more, but the camera cut away.
That was Dufner’s third birdie on the back nine, which offset a triple bogey at the par-3 seventh, en route to an even-par 72. Good times.
Watch: Paul C-ace-y makes hole-in-one at CJ Cup
Par-par-par-par-par-par. It was a boring second round over the first six holes for Paul Casey at the CJ Cup.
And then he aced the par-3 seventh.
Casey's tee shot from 176 tracked straight towards the hole and rolled in near the final revolution. That got him to 2 under par for the tournament. He was five off the lead, held by Chez Reavie, but bogeyed the ninth and 10th holes to give back those two strokes.
Hey, it's a no-cut event and a guaranteed paycheck. Drinks on Casey!