Si Woo Kim of South Korea became the youngest winner of The Players Championship with a game and nerves well beyond his 21 years.
On a TPC Sawgrass course in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, where anything can go wrong without notice, Kim was the only player to go bogey-free yesterday and he closed with a 3-under-par 69 for a three-shot victory in golf’s biggest tournament this side of the majors.
Kim becomes the second player from South Korea to win The Players Championship, joining K.J. Choi in 2011.
“From that moment [when Choi won], I was dreaming that I really want to be in this tournament,” Kim said through a translator. “And I’m very glad I could practice with him. He gave me a lot of advice. That’s why I could do well.”
The only drama at the end came from Ian Poulter (71), who was happy just to be here. Poulter, who only two weeks ago was spared his full PGA Tour status because of a clerical oversight, was the only player to challenge Kim until he ran out of holes. He pushed his approach to the 18th so far to the right that it caromed off hospitality tents and bounced off a cart path into a palmetto bush. He took a penalty drop, then hit wedge over the trees and nearly holed it, tapping in for par. He tied for second with Louis Oosthuizen (73).
Third-round co-leader J.B. Holmes shot a 40 on the front, hit two shots in the water on the 17th, and finished with an 84. It was the worst finish by a 54-hole leader in tournament history.
Defending champion Jason Day closed with an 80, keeping in tact the streak of no winner ever repeating in the Players. Rickie Fowler, who won the year before that, closed with a 79.