PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- The logical continuation of a string of stars winning The Players Championship -- Tiger Woods, Martin Kaymer, Rickie Fowler and Jason Day won the last four -- was obviously Si Woo Kim beating Ian Poulter and Louis Oosthuizen by three this year.
OK, maybe not.
But Kim, who lit up TPC Sawgrass to the tune of a 69 on Sunday, is not a nobody, and he's now joined an all-time list of historic golfers. He's the youngest winner in Players Championship history, taking down previous record-holder Adam Scott. He's also one of only a handful of PGA Tour players in the last quarter century with multiple wins before turning 22.
- Tiger Woods
- Jordan Spieth
- Sergio Garcia
The 21-year-old Kim joins that threesome with his romp at TPC Sawgrass on Sunday. He made just one bogey (to eight birdies) over his final 36 holes and was never really in trouble down the stretch in the final round.
On a day that saw the scoring average balloon to nearly 74, Kim went bogey-free while hitting only eight of 18 greens. He got up and down a stunning 10 (!) times on Sunday to keep a clean card.
That's a mind-boggling number given the conditions (hot and fast) and the field closing in quickly around him.
"I still can't believe that I'm the champion and I'm the youngest champion for this championship," said Kim. "I'm very honored to be the champion for this amazing fifth major event ..."
It's true that Kim hasn't had a great season (he had just one top 10 coming into this week to go with seven missed cuts and four WDs), but he's clearly shown signs of being a stud as evidenced by those multiple wins before turning 22. He also grabbed his PGA Tour card at age 17. That's no joke with how deep the PGA Tour is right now.
I'm not saying he's the South Korean Tiger Woods or anything, but this week was not an accident. You don't get onto the PGA Tour as a teenager without some innate talent. Kim has one of the best young swings in the game, and he paired that with a tremendous short game on the weekend (he was No. 1 in strokes gained putting on Sunday).
Saw first hand how good Si Woo is at San Antonio. Very impressive player. Haven't seen many better at 21 in person. Jordan's one of them.— Billy Horschel (@BillyHo_Golf) May 14, 2017
Maybe the most impressive thing from Kim on Sunday is how he neer seemed rattled by the moment. He never got flustered, and he never stepped outside the zone he seemed to exist in throughout the final 36 holes.
As the tournament wound down, Kim hit a 3-wood from the heavens on the tough 18th hole on Sunday. He left himself about 10 feet between his ball and the water running down the left side. If a single swing and ball flight could be a dagger for a tournament, that was it. That was not a "there's a couple million on the line right now" kind of swing.
Even when he made the final putt on No. 18 for the win, it was almost as if his mind couldn't step outside the state it had been in all day. He gave a sawed-off two-handed fist pump and left the scene like he was less concerned about the nearly $2 million and Players trophy than he was about what he was having for dinner on Sunday night.
Oosthuizen, his playing partner, couldn't believe how cool Kim was all day.
"He played like someone that was doing it for five or six years, like it was just another round of golf," said Oosthuizen. "It just shows you how good a player he is and how cool and calm he is, and never once did he look flustered at all.
"In this big a tournament, that just shows you good champions are like that. Great golfers are like that. When they're under the gun, they don't get flustered. That's what makes him a great champion."
The shot of the day for Kim might have come at the par-4 14th when he pumped a 360-yard drive and then blew his second shot over the green. The juice was running, and he'd left himself nothing.
"We both were long, we both hit it in the worst spot you can and he had a horrible lie," said Oosthuizen. "I actually had the better lie of the two. He hit an unbelievable chip to two feet. I hit mine to about six feet ... That just showed a lot of class."
"As good as he played yesterday, he's obviously gone out there today and played even better," added Poulter, who shot a 69 to finish T2.
"I know he hit a couple of amazing shots yesterday to get himself out of trouble ... but he's gone clean out there today, which is extremely impressive under that pressure. You have to take your hat off. You have to respect some good golf, and that's exactly what he's done."
Now Kim joins a list of Players Championship winners that's a who's who of stars from the past two decades. His name will go down with Woods, Day, Fowler, Adam Scott, Greg Norman, Phil Mickelson and others. It's heady stuff for a 21-year-old with a single Wyndham Championship victory.
"Usually I'm very nervous, but last year I won one of the tournaments and then I could get the two years of exemption," said Kim. "Because of that, I can play aggressively and I wasn't that nervous this year.
"I feel like I'm still dreaming. I never expected that I'm going to win this tournament, and I wasn't doing that well at the beginning of this year, but I'm just so excited that I could be the champion for this tournament."
So you might not have known about Kim at the beginning of the week, and you might not care that he took home one of the biggest tournaments of the season, but you should be here for the rest of his career. In his 61st event on the PGA Tour, Kim won for the second time, and it was a big one. History at this tournament says there are plenty more to come.