All week during The Players Championship, the media talked about the heavy hitters. Dustin Johnson is the best player in the world. Rory McIlroy had new clubs in his bag. Sergio Garcia loved coming to Sawgrass Country Club. Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson both had won here before. Could Jason Day repeat as winner?
Not once did you hear about Si Woo Kim as a potential winner at the PGA Tour’s “fifth” major.
Kim, at 21-years-old, becomes the youngest winner here in Ponte Vedra, Florida.
“I still can’t believe that I’m the champion and I’m the youngest champion for this championship and I’m very honored to be the champion for this amazing fifth Major event and I’m looking forward to working hard from now on,” he told the media following the victory.
Kim played bogey-free golf, especially on the back nine of the course. In posted a 3-under 69 for the round, Kim was the only player in the top-10 to card zero bogeys on the day, while the final group pairing of J.B. Holmes and Kyle Stanley finished a combined 13-over par on the day.
The “heavy hitters” – Johnson et al, all fell off the pace, with Day shooting an 8-over 80 for the afternoon. There is still no repeat winner in the history of The Players Championship.
Kim was also the fourth different leader at the of each round, proving once again this course tested every golfer’s abilities. The searing heat throughout the majority of The Player Championship, the change in winds on Day 3 and the rain that did come in the early part of the round – they all affected scoring.
Kim proved a steady stroke and the ability to let the field fall off the leaderboard was the best way to secure victory.
“It’s still unbelievable that I won this championship and I am very excited I’m the youngest champion for this tournament and I’m very honored to be that,” Kim said.
Kim also becomes the second Korean golfer to win here at The Players Championship. The first was K.J. Choi, who has become a mentor to the youngster. Kim said learning from the 2011 winner here has proven to be a huge help.
“K.J. has become a really good model, so because he had won before I have I am kind of confident that a Korean can win one of these tournaments and that actually helps me when I’m playing,” he added.
Through the first nine holes on Sunday, Kim was 3-under par. Ian Poulter pulled within a stroke of the champion, but he too fall apart on the back nine. Bogeys on the 12th and 18th holes were his unraveling.
“I think it was difficult to kind of get it close, and obviously, the opportunities on the back nine were 11 — I hit a decent shot into 10 and had a decent look there, but took advantage of 11,” Poulter explained. “I still don’t really like the 12th. I don’t think it’s — I think they might need to adjust that at some stage. But it was tough to get it close on those closing holes.”
Poulter said that even though Kim put together a solid round on Saturday at The Players Championship, to put himself in contention, he was even better on Sunday.
“I know he hit a couple of amazing shots yesterday to get himself out of trouble, driver off the deck on 14 was a pretty impressive shot.
But he’s gone clean out there today, which is extremely impressive under that pressure. I kind of got close there on 11 once I made birdie, and obviously, I wanted to try and put a little bit more pressure on, but it was tough to get it close,” he said.
Kim’s first win on the PGA Tour came at the 2016 Wyndham Championship. At 21, he was the season’s youngest winner.
Kim said the win last year allowed him to remain calm on the golf course. Being able to remain focused on his game and not concerned with how his opponents were handling the round made the difference in him taking home the title.