At the end of the Presidents Cup two weeks ago, international team captain Trevor Immelman sang the praises of South Korean golfer Tom Kim and proclaimed a star was born.
Kim more than lived up to the hype after shooting a 5 Under 66 final round at TPC Summerlin on Sunday to win the 2022 Shriners Children’s Open in Las Vegas.
At 20 years, 3 months and 18 days, Kim became the second youngest player to win twice on the PGA Tour since Ralph Guldahl in 1932. He is also the first player since Tiger Woods in 1996 to win twice before winning. be 21 years old. Not impressive enough, Kim became just the second Tour winner since Lee Trevino in 1974 to play 72 holes without registering a bogey (JT Poston did it at the 2019 Wyndham Championship).
Kim, who won the Wyndham championship in August, battled Patrick Cantlay until the latter triple-bogeyed on the last hole to deliver a three-stroke victory. It was Kim’s second win in his last four PGA Tour starts, posting a 72-hole 24-under 260 total.
“I was very lucky on the 18th. I’m not going to lie, Patrick played amazing, and it was an honor to fight with him, and to come out on top, I feel very lucky,” Kim said.
This is all the more remarkable considering his meteoric rise. A year ago, Kim was in Las Vegas the week of the Shriners tournament. “I remember I wanted to play,” he said. A week later, he made his Tour debut at the CJ Cup on a sponsor exemption. He didn’t play on the Tour again until May, but since then he’s gotten special temporary status, got his card for the upcoming season, picked up a win, qualified for the FedEx Cup, made feel his presence in the Presidents Cup and improved to No. 1. 15 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
“I play on the PGA Tour at 20. It’s hard to get tired of that,” he said. “I’m a five-year-old at Disneyland, that’s for sure.”
He and Cantlay shared the lead heading into the final round after Cantlay tied his career-low score on Saturday with a 60. Kim wasn’t too shabby on moving day either, playing his final 11 holes in an 8-under third ride en route to filming. 62.
Validating his first victory would not be easy. Since 2017, Cantlay being in contention at the Shriners Children’s Open has been one of the safest bets on the Vegas Strip. In the final round, Kim made a 30-foot birdie putt at No. 8 to give herself a two-stroke lead. But Cantlay, who won in Vegas in 2017 and settled for third place in that event, wouldn’t have gone down without a fight.
“No lead is safe here because you can go so low and birdie so much,” said Cantlay, who was looking for his third win of the year and his ninth Tour title.
Cantlay did just that by rolling birdies at numbers 11 and 12 to tie Kim at 22 under. But Kim responded with birdies at 13 and 14, the latter of which he entered from 13 feet. It just meant Cantlay had to keep going down and he recorded back-to-back birdies at numbers 15 and 16 to erase his deficit again. Both players made par at 17. Cantlay, who led the pack in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee for the week, picked the worst possible time to snag a 3 wood on the 18e tee and in a bush. He attempted to shoot sideways into the fairway but failed to advance his ball and was forced to take an unplayable.
“I thought if I could get it back in the fairway I’d have a chance, and I thought it was worth the risk because I didn’t think I’d be too lucky to get it up and- brush there,” Cantlay explained. “Obviously the last hole makes the whole week a little sour.”
Cantlay’s next shot splashed the pond in front of the green. He triple-bogeyed and closed in 69 to tie with Matthew NeSmith (66), who set a career-best 88 Tour starts.
Kim did the par he needed at 18 and continues to live up to the accolades he’s received, including from his caddie. Joe Skovron knows a thing or two about working for a player with high expectations. He spent 13 years alongside Rickie Fowler until he parted ways in August and joined Kim at the Presidents Cup two weeks ago.
“He’s got that ‘it’ factor that he wants the moment, he wants the big putt. He wants it and he can deliver it,” Skovron said after Kim’s performance in the Presidents Cup. “I think the sky is the limit for him.”
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