Grades: Satoshi Kodaira takes down Si Woo Kim in 2018 RBC Heritage playoff
Si Woo Kim nearly put himself on an improbable list
Satoshi Kodaira won the 2018 RBC Heritage by virtue of a 5-under 66 in the final round that advance him into a three-hole playoff with Si Woo Kim, who was very close to making history. Kodaira, who could move to as high as top 30 in the Official World Golf Rankings on Monday, was playing in just the 15th PGA Tour event of his career. He had exactly zero top-25 performances coming into Sunday.
And what a performance it was Sunday. After going out in 33, he also closed in 33 despite a bogey at the 17th hole. It was that same 17th hole that he would later birdie in a playoff for the win. After both golfers parred the 18th twice in the playoff, Kodaira made his putt on the tough par 3 and grabbed a PGA Tour card in the process.
Kim missed his chance at history. With his third win, the 22-year-old could have joined a super-exclusive list that includes Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Jack Nicklaus. Instead, he'll have to settle for runner up and another two months of chances to join that list before he turns 23 in June.
He wasn't without opportunities, either. Kim shot a 3-over 38 on the back nine that included three bogeys, six pars and a whole handful of missed putts that would have won him the tournament.
Not all was lost, of course. Kim, a former Players Championship winner and champion in two of his first 87 starts on the PGA Tour, was delighted by the support he received throughout the week in Hilton Head.
"Even though I'm not an American player, I'm just incredibly grateful to see some of these fans cheering my name and cheering for me in the playoff," said Kim. "And I hope that, even if I'm playing with an American player, these fans would cheer for me."
Kodaira came from a pack way back of third-round leader Ian Poulter as he trailed the Englishman by six (!) strokes going into the final round, where he captured PGA Tour victory No. 1. That's nothing new at this tournament, but it was quite a day to play the second best best round of the day and the best final round of his career. Grades: A+
Dustin Johnson (T16): It's difficult to envision any course anywhere not suiting Johnson, and he proved that again this week. Coming into this tournament, his last two appearances at the RBC Heritage had both been missed cuts, but he leveraged a closing 4-under 67 to notch his eighth top-20 finish of the season in stroke play events (in eight tournaments). Also, if he putted at all, he would have won. Johnson finished seventh in strokes gained from tee to green and 63rd in putting.
"I felt like I played really well," said Johnson in his return for the first time in a decade. "I played the golf course pretty good tee to green. I struggled on the greens a bit. Other than that, if I putt well, I should be right up there with a chance to win, for sure, because I played well enough." Grade: B
Ian Poulter (T7): Golf is better when Poulter is involved. I'm sorry, but that's true. Poulter probably should have won this tournament. He was 14 under going to the back nine on Sunday (which would have won the event by two) and shot a ghastly 40 coming home to drop out of the lead and the top five. Still, a win and another top 10 in two of the last three weeks is strong, and Poulter is all of a sudden looking like a lock for the Ryder Cup in Paris. Grade: A-
Bryson DeChambeau (T3): I felt great about DeChambeau coming into this week, and he delivered. He's now had two top 10s here in the last three years and is somewhat quietly (or as quietly as somebody like DeChambeau is able) stringing together a strong season. His undoing was a 4-over 75 on Saturday. If he shoots par there, he cruises all the way home to win No. 2 in his PGA Tour career. That's frustrating for him, to be sure, but the entire PGA Tour is made up of "what ifs" like this one. The real growth can be found in turning 75s into 71s or 72s and winning tournaments because of it.
"I'm playing well this year," said DeChambeau. "I had a couple top-10s; I had a couple of chances to win. It's been a great year so far, and I'm looking forward to the rest. We're only halfway through, a lot to come."
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