Brooks Koepka is golf’s new world No 1
Victory in the CJ Cup in South Korea sees the American claim the top ranking
Jeju — Triple Major champion Brooks Koepka will overtake Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose to become world No 1 for the first time after winning the CJ Cup on Sunday by four strokes.
"It’s a dream come true," said Koepka after completing a final round of eight-under par 64 at the US PGA Tour event in South Korea, highlighted by a chip-in for birdie on the 16th, to finish 21 under par.
"I don’t think I ever thought in my wildest dreams I’d be the best golfer in the world," he added. "It’s amazing to go world No 1 with a win. I always wanted to earn my way to No 1."
The US PGA Tour Player of the Year in 2018, Koepka carded 267 to capture first prize in the $9.5m tournament and hold off fellow American Gary Woodland, who poured in 11 birdies as he charged to a final-round 63 for a 271 aggregate.
The in-form Koepka, who in 2018 won his second and third Majors at the US Open and the US PGA, shook off some shaky moments early in his final round at the Club at Nine Bridges on the resort island of Jeju.
He was ranked third behind fellow Ryder Cup players Johnson and Rose, who both sat out the tournament, and will leapfrog them when new rankings are announced on Monday.
Koepka began his final round with a four-stroke lead over fellow American Scott Piercy and England’s Ian Poulter. But Woodland emerged as Koepka’s nearest challenger after beginning five shots adrift.
Woodland’s four consecutive birdies from the sixth put him into a share of the lead at 14-under as Koepka, playing two groups behind, was trading three birdies with two bogeys on his front nine.
Woodland got a bogey at the 10th, and Koepka birdied it minutes later for a two-shot lead.
Woodland bounced back with two straight birdies at the 12th and 13th, but Koepka coolly matched the feat.
Both birdied the 15th and after Woodland had another birdie at the 16th to close to one, Koepka put his approach to the same par-four hole into the left rough. With a bogey looming, Koepka chipped in for a thrilling birdie to reach 19-under.
Moments later, Woodland bogeyed the 17th to fall three behind and despite bouncing back with a birdie at 18, Koepka closed with an eagle on the last to cap the victory in style. AFP