Ja­pan’s Ko­daira wins in a play­off

The Maui News - - SPORTS -

HIL­TON HEAD IS­LAND, S.C. (AP) — Early on, Satoshi Ko­daira was think­ing only of play­ing well enough Sun­day to make it to next week’s PGA Tour stop.

Those wor­ries are over for the 28-year-old from Ja­pan, who ral­lied from six shots be­hind to win the RBC Her­itage in a play­off and gain an in­vi­ta­tion to join the tour as a reg­u­lar.

“This is a stage I’ve been dream­ing about,” Ko­daira said through an in­ter­preter. “And hav­ing this op­por­tu­nity to play full time is a dream come true.”

Ko­daira de­feated Si Woo Kim on the third play­off hole, rolling in a 25-foot birdie on the par-3 17th hole, then punch­ing his fist in cel­e­bra­tion. It ended a drama-filled fi­nal round in which it ap­peared that Kim, Ian Poul­ter and Luke List had the lock on the ti­tle at dif­fer­ent points.

But it was Ko­daira’s re­lent­less grind to the top that won the day. And with the game he showed at Har­bour Town Golf Links, Ko­daira ap­pears like he’s got more big mo­ments on tour ahead like coun­try­man and five-time tour win­ner Hideki Mat­suyama.

“I feel like I’m get­ting closer to that level,” said Ko­daira, who is ranked 46th in the world and has played in 15 tour events. “I’d like to do my best in ma­jor cham­pi­onships and, hope­fully, work hard at it.”

Bryson DeCham­beau (66) and List (72) were tied for third. Third-round leader Poul­ter’s bid for a sec­ond tour ti­tle in three weeks ended with a 75 and a tie for sev­enth.

Start­ing times for the fi­nal round were moved up be­cause of a fore­cast for bad weather.

Ko­daira won $1.206 mil­lion and is ex­empt on the PGA Tour through the 2019-20 sea­son.

The tour­na­ment ap­peared in steady hands with Kim, whose bull­dog fo­cus and shot-mak­ing held ev­ery­one off to win The Play­ers Cham­pi­onship last May. But the 22-year-old from South Korea fal­tered over his fi­nal nine holes of reg­u­la­tion, with three bo­geys to fall into the tie with Ko­daira.

AP photo

Satoshi Ko­daira chips onto the 8th hole dur­ing the fi­nal round of the RBC Her­itage golf tour­na­ment Sun­day at Har­bour Town Golf Links on Hil­ton Head Is­land, S.C. Ko­daira de­feated Si Woo Kim on the third play­off hole to win.

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