South Korean birdies 2 of final 3 holes at PGA West's Stadium Course to surge past Patrick Cantlay and win his 3rd PGA Tour title
In winning his third title on the PGA Tour, Kim, 25, ended a 3½-year winless streak (scores).
“My heart was fluttering the last five holes,” said Kim, of South Korea. “I wasn’t trying to press it but just remain patient.”
Kim two-putted for birdie after reaching the par-5 16th hole with a 5-wood to tie American Patrick Cantlay, who had set the clubhouse target at 22-under 266 with the low score of the tournament, a 61. Kim then sank a 19-footer for birdie and the outright lead at the island par-3 17th. With a routine two-putt par at the 18th hole, Kim wrapped up a bogey-free 8-under 64 and won his first title since the 2017 Players Championship.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence after this tournament,” he said.
Cantlay, a native of Southern California who played college golf at UCLA, nearly parlayed a phenomenal 18-under weekend into his second title of the season and fourth of his career.
"I thought that if I played two absolutely fantastic rounds on the weekend, I would have a chance," Cantlay said. "And I did. I played really well. I played flawless today, and it was really all I could ask for."
American Tony Finau, the 54-hole co-leader with Kim, birdied his first two holes and appeared to be poised to win his second PGA Tour title. However, he faded with two back-nine bogeys before making birdie on two of his final four holes for a 68 and fourth place, one stroke behind third-place Cameron Davis of Australia.
The tournament was the first of five consecutive weeks of the PGA Tour’s West Coast Swing.
Kim, who entered the tournament ranked 96th in the world, is in his sixth season on the PGA Tour. He first qualified for the PGA Tour as a 17-year-old out of the 2012 Q-School. After a quick demotion to the minor leagues, he earned a return trip to the PGA Tour via a Web.com Tour victory in 2015. His first PGA Tour victory, at the 2016 Wyndham Championship, brought some job security before the 2017 Players title cemented his place in golf’s major leagues.
Kim credited a recent session with instructor Claude Harmon for fine-tuning some swing mechanics.
“We're just working on backswing and, like, more straight the takeaway,” Kim said. “I was a little inside before, and so he just fixed that, and just little things.”
His victory in the California desert, worth $1.206 million from the $6.7 million purse, was his third in 164 starts on the PGA Tour.
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