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Jason Kokrak breaks through in 233rd start on PGA Tour

Jason Kokrak wins the 2020 CJ Cup at Shadow Creek
Jason Kokrak (center) receives congratulations from Xander Schauffele upon winning the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas on Sunday.

10-year Tour veteran rallies with a bogey-free 64 for a 2-stroke victory in the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas

In his 10th season and 233rd start on the PGA Tour, Jason Kokrak finally broke through.

Kokrak matched the best round of the tournament Sunday with a final-round 8-under 64 for a 20-under 268 total to win the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas (scores).

“I couldn't be happier,” Kokrak said. “Very happy with how I've been putting and kind of paying off with all the work I've been putting in.”

Kokrak, 35, a native Canadian who grew up in Ohio and played college golf at Xavier, is a paid spokesman for BetMGM, which debuted real-time betting for the PGA Tour’s debut at a Shadow Creek Golf Course that has a long and colorful history in the desert oasis. Las Vegas landed the CJ Cup this year when the tournament was relocated from South Korea because of the global coronavirus pandemic.

“It kind of feels like home,” Kokrak said of Shadow Creek. “I’ve played this golf course enough. I should know it by know.”

He turned that local knowledge into a convincing victory.

Kokrak ran off four consecutive birdies, on Nos. 5-8, then punctuated his bogey-free final round with a two-putt birdie at the par-5 18th as he erased a three-stroke deficit to start the day.

Putting proved to be the key for Kokrak. He led the field in strokes gained putting (2.573 per round) for the first time in his career. He also made a career-high 14 putts of 10 feet or longer for the week.

Kokrak was the third consecutive winner age 35 or older on the PGA Tour, after Sergio Garcia, 40, won the Sanderson Farms Championship two weeks ago and Martin Laird, 37, won the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open one week later.

American Xander Schauffele shot 6-under 66 to finish second at 18-under 270, two strokes behind Kokrak. It was Schauffele's third consecutive top-five finish. American Russell Henley, the 54-hole leader, shot 70 for a share of third place with England’s Tyrrell Hatton, who had won last week’s BMW PGA on the European Tour to climb into the world ranking’s top 10.

Brooks Koepka, the four-time major champion who had missed the past two months with an injured left ankle, shot 5-under 283 to tie for 28th in his return to competition.

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