Chez Reavie withstands wind to take CJ Cup lead

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Chez Reavie withstands wind to take CJ Cup lead

PGA Tour

Chez Reavie withstands wind to take CJ Cup lead

In just a short time, the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges has developed a reputation for windy and tough scoring conditions. That’s why Justin Thomas opened with 9-under 63 a year ago on Jeju Island in South Korea, only to finish at the same number after 72 holes before beating Marc Leishman in a playoff to capture the event’s inaugural title.

On Thursday, players faced more wind, along with some cool temperatures, in the first round of the second edition of the CJ Cup. As a result, just 19 of the 78 players broke par in Round 1.

“It’s tough because once you get above the hole with this wind, it’s really hard to chip it close,” Reavie said. “The more greens you can hit, the better.”

Reavie handled the difficult conditions better than the rest of the field.

The 36-year-old Reavie was impressive with his ballstriking, typically the strength of his game, hitting all 14 fairways and missing just three greens. He made five birdies and just a single bogey, at the par-3 13th, en route to a 4-under 68 and the first-round lead.

“The wind was blowing really hard all day long so you had to really start the ball well and keep it out of the wind,” Reavie said. “Luckily, I was able to do that.”

Ravie has missed six of his last 11 cuts dating to last season. Last fall, he began his season with six straight top-25s before later posting back-to-back runner-up finishes, at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Now, it appears Reavie, who won the Canadian Open in 2008 for his only Tour victory, has rediscovered some form. He leads by a shot over Si Woo Kim and another player looking to find his game again, Danny Willett.

Willett, the 31-year-old Englishman and 2016 Masters champion, rose to ninth in the world after winning at Augusta National. However, he has since fallen to No. 342 in the world, though recently he has showed in the past half-year some signs of breaking out again – T-8, Italian Open; T-6, Irish Open; T-24, British Open.

This season, Willett has taken up PGA Tour membership and plans to play full-time in the U.S. next year.

“I’ve done two tours for a couple of years, and it’s very difficult,” said Willett, whose 3-under 69 Thursday featured five birdies, including four in his final six holes of the front nine. “We committed to play on the PGA Tour, to play predominantly over here this year and next. It’s nice to kind of get in and get some points early if you can.”

Ben An, Ian Poulter and Michael Kim are part of a big group at 2 under while Brooks Koepka, Hideki Matsuyama and Paul Casey are another shot back in a tie for 11th.

Defending champion Justin Thomas shot 73.

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