Reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year headlines field in S. Korea

October 15, 2018

JEJU, South Korea, Oct. 16 (Yonhap) — Golf fans in South Korea will be treated to quality golf for the third consecutive week, with Brooks Koepka, the reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year, joining the tour’s Asia Swing.

The US$9.5 million CJ Cup@Nine Bridges will begin Thursday at Club at Nine Bridges on the southern resort island of Jeju. Now in its second edition, the CJ Cup is the only PGA Tour event held in South Korea.

This is the third international golf competition taking place in South Korea in as many weeks. Incheon, lying just west of Seoul, hosted the UL International Crown, an LPGA team event, two weeks ago, followed by the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship.

This promotional poster for the CJ Cup@Nine Bridges, provided by the organizer of the PGA Tour event, shows three of the top players in the field. From left: world No. 4 Justin Thomas, world No. 12 Jason Day and world No. 3 Brooks Koepka. (Yonhap)

This promotional poster for the CJ Cup@Nine Bridges, provided by the organizer of the PGA Tour event, shows three of the top players in the field. From left: world No. 4 Justin Thomas, world No. 12 Jason Day and world No. 3 Brooks Koepka. (Yonhap)

South Korea won the International Crown, and Chun In-gee, a member of that winning team, captured the KEB Hana Bank Championship.

But at the CJ Cup, South Korean players will face an uphill battle against the likes of Koepka, who won the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship last season, and Justin Thomas, world No. 4 and defending champion.

Among other notables in the 78-man field, there will be four members of the winning European side from last month’s Ryder Cup: Ian Poulter, Alex Noren, Tyrrell Hatton and Paul Casey.

Marc Leishman, who lost to Thomas in a playoff last year, will be back trying to do one better this time. He’s fresh off his first win of the season at the CIMB Classic in China last weekend.

A pair of former No. 1s and major champions, Jason Day and Adam Scott, will also be here, as well as Hall of Famer Ernie Els. They’re among a dozen major champions at Nine Bridges.

Billy Horschel, the 2014 FedEx Cup champion who finished fifth this year, will head to the CJ Cup for the first time. The five-time PGA Tour winner had a trio of top-three finishes at the four FedEx Cup playoffs events last season.

In this Getty Images file photo from Oct. 7, 2018, Im Sung-jae of South Korea watches his tee shot at the first hole during the first round of the Safeway Open on the PGA Tour at Silverado Resort and Spa North in Napa, California. (Yonhap)

In this Getty Images file photo from Oct. 7, 2018, Im Sung-jae of South Korea watches his tee shot at the first hole during the first round of the Safeway Open on the PGA Tour at Silverado Resort and Spa North in Napa, California. (Yonhap)

There is no shortage of local talent, as 12 South Koreans will seek to give the home crowd something to cheer about.

Kim Si-woo, a two-time PGA Tour winner, and An Byeong-hun, 2015 European Tour Rookie of the Year, are among those who ply their trade on the U.S. circuit. One name to watch is rookie Im Sung-jae, who finished in fourth place — one stroke out of the playoffs — in his PGA Tour debut at the Safeway Open two weeks ago. He earned his PGA Tour card after topping the second-tier Web.com Tour in money last season.

Park Sang-hyun, currently No. 1 in the Korea PGA (KPGA) Tour’s money list, scoring average and Player of the Year points race, will lead the domestic contingent.

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