Marc Leishman goes into the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges after winning his fourth title on the PGA Tour last week in Kuala Lumpur.
The tournament on Jeju Island, the largest island off the coast of the Korean Peninsula, is also where he lost in a playoff last year to Justin Thomas.
And the country itself? It’s where he feels right at home enjoying the Korean culture and meeting old friends.
Leishman played some tournaments on the Korean tour 12 years ago when he was in the formative stages of his career, and he hasn’t forgotten the friends and memories.
“The KPGA (Tour) was a very good experience. It was the first tour I had ever been on and I was very excited to be up here,” Leishman said. “I met a lot of friends, a lot of Korean golfers that I’m still friends with now. It taught me a lot, playing on the Korean Tour.
“Traveling in a foreign country by myself, that teaches you things very quickly. I’ve got a lot of good memories from 2006 when I played.”
Leishman won the CIMB Classic in Malaysia last Sunday by five strokes, closing with a 7-under 65 to match Thomas’ 2015 tournament record of 26-under 262.
Thomas will be back as defending champion at Jeju Island, while Brooks Koepka plays his first event since being voted PGA Tour player of the year. Koepka also will be in Shanghai next week for the HSBC Champions, the third tournament in three weeks on the PGA Tour’s Asian swing.
The CJ Cup starting Thursday also includes Adam Scott, Jason Day, Hideki Matsuyama and Ian Poulter, who are making their 2018-19 season debuts, as well as FedEx Cup leader Kevin Tway, who won the season-opening Safeway Classic in a playoff.
Shubhankar Sharma of India, tied for the 54-hole lead in Kuala Lumpur last week before finishing in a tie for ninth, is also entered in South Korea. He is leading the Order of Merit on the Asian Tour.
The tournament’s $9.5 million purse trails only The Players Championship, the World Golf Championships and the majors on the PGA Tour schedule.
Source: The Associated Press