Si-Woo is the youngest winner of The Players Championship
SOUTH Korean Kim SiWoo became the youngest winner of The Players Championship on Sunday when he shot a final round three-under-par 69 to clinch a three-stroke victory at the TPC Stadium course in Ponte Vedra.
The 21-year-old displayed composure beyond his years to finish on 10-under 278 and follow 2011 champion K.J. Choi as the second South Korean to win the PGA Tour’s flagship event.
Englishman Ian Poulter (71) was the only player to put pressure CARY: Finishing second rarely sits well with Ian Poulter but on Sunday the Englishman was in good spirits after his joint runner-up performance at The Players Championship.
Less than a month ago Poulter thought he had lost his full playing status on the PGA Tour after failing to earn enough points in a on Kim over the final few holes. However, he bogeyed the last after shanking his second into a bush and finished tied for second with South African Louis Oosthuizen on seven-under.
World No 1 Dustin Johnson carded a final round 68 to finish tied for 12th while No 2 Rory McIlroy ended with a 75 to drop to equal 35th.
Kim, nearly two years younger than Adam Scott when the Australian designated number of tournaments this season after returning from a foot injury that curtailed his 2016 campaign.
However, after fellow pro Brian Gay discovered a discrepancy in the points allocation for players coming back off medical exemptions, the Tour recalculated his points tally and Poulter was won in 2004, is also the first player from Asia to win twice on the PGA Tour before the age of 22.
“Today was a very happy day. I didn’t expect that I could be the champion of this tournament at this young age,” Kim told a news conference.
Kim caught the eye when he clinched his first PGA Tour victory in Greensboro, North Carolina last August but had endured handed a lifeline until the end of the season.
The 41-year-old grabbed his chance at the TPC Sawgrass in Florida, finishing three shots behind winner Kim Si-Woo at the PGA Tour’s flagship event.
“It’s been a roller coaster ride,” said the five-time European Ryder Cup member, who has not a wretched 2017 campaign until this week, his cause not helped by back and wrist injuries.
Acting on advice from his new instructor Sean Foley, who coaches Olympic champion Justin Rose and previously worked with Tiger Woods, Kim has started using more hip-turn in his backswing and everything came together in Florida as he blew away arguably the deepest field of the won since 2012.
“When I look back and I reflect on this week, it’s been a big week.
“Two, three weeks ago to have been in a position where I wasn’t playing The Players and was looking to write nice letters to Jack (Nicklaus) for Memorial (tournament) and all of those great tournaments that I’d like to play in, things change pretty quick with good golf, and that’s what I’ve done this week.”
Poulter was even able to have a laugh at his second shot from the rough at the last, a shank that squirted right and finished in a palmetto bush.
He was forced to take a penalty stroke but then almost holed out with a wedge from 115 yards to leave himself with a tap-in bogey.
“It was a big shock to the system to hit one of those nasty shanks when I’ve hit it as good as I have all week, but the fourth shot was pretty special, from one of the worst shots I’ve ever hit to one of the very best,” he said.
Poulter was clearly in the mood to celebrate.
“I can’t believe I’m drinking water right now,” he added. “It needs to be something a little stronger than that. That’s all they’ve got in that little box down there.” Reuters year to win the event.
Kim also thanked compatriot Choi for helping him close out the victory.
“He taught me about the course and so when I was in position the last round, his experience of being in the leading position, that kind of advice actually helped me a lot,” Kim said.
“I felt really good since last night, and when I started the final round, I was actually very aggressive in order to get more score and beat them.
“And then the moment that I was leading, I was very confident. There are some strong winds, and I’m actually enjoying that moment, so I think I was very confident that I could win.”
On a course that muzzles the long hitters and makes them think twice about taking the cover off the driver, most of the big names were nowhere to be seen on the leaderboard.
Defending champion Jason Day had a quadruple-bogey nine at the par-five 16th and a doublebogey at the par three 17th to shoot 80 and plunge to equal 60th.
Masters champion Sergio Garcia, who started the day three shots from the lead, did not fare much better with a 78 and finished tied for 30th place. Reuters
Ian Poulter finished joint runner-up at The Players Championship on Sunday.
Kim Si-Woo celebrates with the winner's trophy after the final round of The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass on Sunday.