Mercedes Field Converge on Kapalua
Tiger Woods, who won nine PGA Tour events last year, will head the field. Only those who won a tournament in 2000 are entered.
For the third straight year, the tournament will be contested over the Kapulua Plantation Course. Prior to 1999, the event was played for 30 years at La Costa in Southern California. It originally began in Las Vegas, Nev., in 1953, when Al Besselink was the winner.
David Duval, who will again be participating, won the tournament by nine strokes at the 1999 Mercedes. It was the widest margin of victory until Woods won the U.S. Open last year by 15 strokes.
Last year Woods and Ernie Els put on one of the most dramatic finishes ever. Woods eventually won on the third playoff hole with a birdie.
Darren Clarke of Ireland is the only eligible player expected to miss the Mercedes. Clarke won the World Match Play Championships last year.
In addition to Woods, Duval and Els, other multiple winners who will be in attendance are Phil Mickelson, who won four times; and Jesper Parnevik, Hal Sutton, Robert Allenby and Notah Begay III, who won twice. Tom Lehman, Jim Furyk, Justin Leonard, Loren Roberts, Vijay Singh and Rocco Mediate are among the list of others who will start Thursday.
The winner will receive $630,000 for first place in addition to a 2001 Mercedes-Benz SL500 Sport.
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!