NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. — In his 10th season and after his 233rd tournament, Jason Kokrak can finally call himself a PGA Tour winner.
Kokrak earned every bit of it Sunday in the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek, where the 35-year-old American matched the best round of the tournament with an 8-under-par 64 to overcome a three-shot deficit entering the final day and win a back-nine duel with Xander Schauffele (66).
"To wait this long for my first win, it's a pretty special thing," said Kokrak, who finished at 20-under 268, with Schauffele two back. "Couldn't be happier."
Kokrak, already in the field for this year's Masters, qualified for the 2021 edition of the Georgia major with Sunday's win.
The timing couldn't have been better. The CJ Cup moved from South Korea this year to Shadow Creek because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Kokrak is an ambassador for MGM Resorts, which owns the prestigious Tom Fazio design, and he has played the course some two dozen times.
"It feels like home," Kokrak said. "I've played this golf course enough that I should know it by now."
Russell Henley, who led by three strokes after 54 holes, never got anything going early in the final round and fell behind when he bogeyed the par-5 seventh as Kokrak was on an early run of birdies. Henley's hopes for victory ended on the reachable par-4 11th when he drove over the green into thick rough and, facing a downhill chip, left it in the rough short of the green and made bogey on the second-easiest scoring hole at Shadow Creek.
That put him four shots behind, and a late push of birdies was never going to be enough. The former University of Georgia standout closed with a 70 and tied for third with Tyrrell Hatton (65), who was coming off a European Tour victory the weekend before in the BMW PGA Championship.
Baylor School graduate Harris English, who played college golf with Henley, closed with a 68 to finish 10th at 10 under.
Lefty gets right for Masters
RICHMOND, Va. — Phil Mickelson likes to play aggressively, and he found the PGA Tour Champions' stop at the Country Club of Virginia the perfect place to begin his preparations for the Masters, postponed this year from April to November because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Bombing drives like he will have to at Augusta National against the younger set from the PGA Tour, Mickelson shot a 7-under 65 and became the third player to win his first two starts on the 50-and-older tour. Mickelson slammed the door on Mike Weir with a back-nine surge in the Dominion Energy Charity Classic, finishing the 54-hole event at 17-under 199, one off the tournament record set by Miguel Angel Jimenez last year.
"It's fun for me to come out here and play well and this is a good start for me as I try to build a little bit of momentum heading to Augusta in about a month," Mickelson said.
Canada's Weir, who shares left-handed hitting and senior circuit rookie status with Mickelson, struggled with the putter as he closed with a 71 to finish three shots behind Mickelson and one ahead of third-place Paul Goydos (65).
The winner in late August at Ozarks National in Missouri in his first start on the PGA Tour Champions, Mickelson joined Bruce Fleischer (1999) and Jim Furyk (2020) as the only players to win their first two senior events.
"I put a new driver into play this week, trying to get a little more pop, a little more carry," Mickelson said. "It was a little wayward at times, but it was also effective in allowing me to play this course the way I wanted to, which was aggressively."
Sunday cruise in Scotland
FIFE, Scotland — Adrian Otaegui won the Scottish Championship for his first stroke-play title on the European Tour, closing with a 9-under 63 for a four-stroke victory.
Otaegui's previous two victories were match-play events — and one of them was in Scotland, too, at the Paul Lawrie Match Play in 2017. The 27-year-old Spaniard's other title was at the Belgian Knockout the following year.
Otaegui had eight birdies in an 11-hole stretch and finished at 23-under 265 at Fairmont St. Andrews.
Third-round leader Matt Wallace wound up second after a 71.