Koepka eyes victory and No. 1 ranking

JEJU (South Korea) • Brooks Koepka moved into position to claim his first win on his first start of the new PGA Tour season, after he shot a five-under 67 in the third round of the CJ Cup in South Korea yesterday to open up a four-stroke lead.

Koepka, who won two of last season's four Majors and was named the PGA Tour's Player of the Year, is on 13-under 203, with fellow American Scott Piercy (72) and England's Ian Poulter (68) tied for second on nine under.

Victory for Koepka today would see him replace Dustin Johnson as world No. 1 for the first time.

It was another ideal scoring day at Nine Bridges on the resort island of Jeju which yielded 33 rounds in the 60s, and Koepka emerged with a comfortable lead following his bogey-free round.

He began the day on eight under, one shot behind overnight leader Piercy but grabbed the lead on 10 under with a birdie at the 10th.

The 28-year-old opened up a three-shot lead on 11 under with a birdie at the 14th before closing out his day with consecutive birdies at the 17th and the 18th.

His unblemished card could have been even better had a tentatively eagle putt at the last dropped instead of sliding by, but Koepka was pleased with his hot putter.

"I felt like I putted really well again, that was a big key, and then just leaving myself with good looks," he told reporters. "I've hit a lot of greens, which has been nice and I just need to continue that."

The US Open and PGA Championship champion also shrugged off the suggestion that the pressure might get to him, with six others, led by Spain's Rafa Cabrera Bello, tied for fourth place on eight under, and in hot pursuit.

"Just get off to a good start and keep making those key momentum-building putts," he said.

Koepka added that he would love to "earn" the top ranking by winning the event and has set his sights on usurping compatriot Johnson.

"Hopefully, I'll get to world No. 1 and cap it off with a win. I always wanted to become world No. 1 in the week I was playing. To do it here would be nice," he said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

CJ CUP

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 21, 2018, with the headline 'Koepka eyes victory and No. 1 ranking'. Print Edition | Subscribe