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Home : Golf NewsBack to News

Kim, 21, blows away the big guns

 

Kim Si-woo, a 21-year-old South Korean, has become the youngest-ever winner of The Players Championship, the flagship US PGA Tour event often referred to as the 'Fifth Major'.

The second Korean after KJ Choi to win The Players, Kim held his nerve like a seasoned veteran on Sunday to shoot a final round 3-under 69 on the storied, never easy to conquer Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra.

That enabled him to close with a 10-under 278 total that was good enough to give him a three-shot victory over South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen (73), a former Open Champion, and English Ryder Cup hero Ian Poulter, the only player who was able to put any pressure on the Korean young gun coming down the closing stretch.

Poulter, whose challenge would finally fizzle when he bogeyed the last hole, closed off his best week since his return from a long, injury-inforced lay-off with a 71.

Behind Oosthuizen and Poulter, Spain's Rafael Cabrera-Bello (70) tied for 4th with the event's leading American Kyle Stanley (75).

In a championship that featured everyone who is anyone in professional golf, World No 1 Dustin Johnson, already a three-time winner this year, carded a final round 68 to finish in a tie for 12th while recently married World No 2 Rory McIlroy posted a dismal 75 to tumble down the leaderboard into a tie for 35th.

"Today was a very happy day. I didn't expect that I could be the champion of this tournament at this young age," said Kim, who is also the first player from Asia to win twice on the PGA Tour before the age of 22.

His first victory on the PGA Tour came at Greensboro in North Carolina last August, but since then he had been struggling through some hard times, partly because of back and wrist injuries.

Kim said it was only after acting on advice from his new swing coach Sean Foley, who also coaches Olympic champion Justin Rose and was one of the many who worked with Tiger Woods, that he should start using more hip turn in his backswing that he was able to regain his winning momentum and go on to beat a field every bit as strong as you'll get at any major.

Kim also thanked Choi for contributing to his victory.

"He taught me about the course and also how to play it when I was in the position I was in during the last round. His experience and that kind if advice actually helped me a lot," Kim said.

On a course that nullifies the long hitters and makes them think twice about using their drivers, most of the games big guns, including bombers Johnson and McIlroy, seldom made the leaderboard.

World No 3 Jason Day, the defending champion, for instance, posted a quadruple-bogey nine at the par-five 16th and then double-bogeyed the par three 17th to shoot a disastrous 80 and fall all the way down into a tie for 60th.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia, one of those who did appear on the leaderboard when he started the final day just three shots off the lead, didn't fare much better in te end, his closing 78 consigning him to a tie for 30th place.

LEADING FINAL SCORES
(Par 72 - US unless stated)

278 Kim Si Woo (Kor) 69 72 68 69
281 Louis Oosthuizen (RSA) 69 66 73 73 , Ian Poulter (Eng) 72 67 71 71
282 Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Isp) 69 70 73 70, Kyle Stanley 69 66 72 75
283 Francesco Molinari (Ita) 69 74 69 71, Lucas Glover 70 70 73 70, Brendan Steele 69 71 75 68, Adam Scott (Aus) 70 72 71 70
284 Alexander Noren (Swe) 68 71 72 73
285 Emiliano Grillo (Arg) 72 71 67 75
286 Bernd Wiesberger (Aut) 75 71 68 72, Dustin Johnson 71 73 74 68, Smylie Kaufman 74 67 76 69, Chris Kirk 74 72 69 71
287 Brooks Koepka 74 69 71 73, Webb Simpson 71 69 77 70, Mackenzie Hughes 67 75 74 71, Henrik Stenson (Swe) 72 70 74 71, Vijay Singh (Fij) 70 68 79 70, Blayne Barber 70 76 72 69
288 Patrick Cantlay (U.S.) 69 70 72 77, Paul Casey (Britain) 71 69 77 71, Hideki Matsuyama (Japan) 72 71 76 69, Pat Perez (U.S.) 74 72 66 76, William McGirt (U.S.) 67 75 71 75, Yuta Ikeda (Japan) 73 69 72 74, Patrick Reed (U.S.) 72 73 74 69, Noh Seung-Yul (Korea) 73 69 75 71
289 Kang Sung-Hoon (Kor) 71 75 72 71, Ben Martin 71 70 73 75, Sergio Garcia (Isp) 73 71 67 78, Adam Hadwin (Can) 71 72 76 70, Charley Hoffman 74 72 72 71.

Neville Leck

Submit tips & suggestions to neville@golfweather.com.

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