South Korean Si Woo Kim displayed composure beyond his years to clinch a three-shot victory at The Players Championship as Ian Poulter’s challenge came up just short at TPC Sawgrass.
Kim, aged 21, fired a flawless final round 69 to post a winning score of 10 under par, while Poulter’s battling 71 secured a share of second with Louis Oosthuizen.
Third round leaders JB Holmes and Kyle Stanley crashed out of contention, while Rafa Cabrera Bello made a historic albatross at the 16th and enjoyed his best finish in the United States to finish fourth.
Kim put early pressure on the leaders when he rolled in a 15-foot putt for birdie on the opening green, and he did well to scramble pars at the third, fourth and fifth holes as he suddenly found himself in a tie at the top.
The South Korean, who won the Wyndham Championship last year, then holed from 25 feet for birdie at the seventh, before he followed another clutch par putt at eight with another long-range birdie at nine to turn in 33.
Kim, who turned professional in 2012, aged just 17, salvaged pars at 10 and 11, and his short-game kept in front as he got up and down after missing three consecutive greens from the 13th to maintain a two-shot advantage over Poulter. But the leader was a model of consistency over the dangerous closing three holes, finding the heart of each green in regulation and two-putting for pars to land the biggest victory of his career, making him the youngest-ever winner of golf’s ‘fifth major’.
Poulter, who only found out he had kept his PGA Tour card two weeks earlier, following an error in his points tally, has almost already secured his card for next season following his second-placed finish.
“I was nervous out there all day,” said Poulter. “I think understandably, because I haven’t been in that position for a long time. The last month or so has been extremely stressful. I would love to have won, but this was a good week.”