South Korean youngster Kim Joo-hyung, who goes by English name Tom Kim in the US, has found the winner’s circle on the PGA Tour for the second time.
Kim held off Patrick Cantlay and Matthew NeSmith, both of the United States, by three strokes at 24-under to win the Shriners Children’s Open at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas on Sunday (local time). Kim outdueled his two American playing partners with the final round score of five-under 66, for the four round total of 260 on the par-71 course. Kim did not commit a bogey in the entire tournament and became the first player since J.T. Poston in August 2019 to win a PGA tournament without a bogey.
Kim, 20, grabbed his maiden title at the Wyndham Championship in August as a rookie. Shriners Children’s Open was Kim’s first tournament of the 2022-2023 season.
Kim is the first player since Tiger Woods to win twice on the PGA Tour before turning 21.
Kim, who goes by his English name Tom in the US, is the second straight South Korean champion of this tournament. Im Sung-jae won the event last October and he finished seventh this time at 19-under.
There were a couple of other South Korean flags on the leaderboard, with rookie Kim Seong-hyeon tying for fourth at 20-under and Kim Si-woo tying for eighth at 18-under. This was the first PGA tournament in which four South Koreans placed inside the top 10.
Kim Joo-hyung is now the seventh South Korean with multiple PGA Tour wins, joining Choi Kyoung-ju (eight), Kim Si-woo (three), Yang Yong-eun (two), Bae Sang-moon (two), Lee Kyoung-hoon (two) and Im (two).
Kim and Cantlay were tied for the 54-hole lead at 19-under. Cantlay poured in 11 birdies for a 60 in the third round, while Kim also had a bogey-free third round of 62.
NeSmith began Sunday at 16-under.
Kim and Cantlay were knotted at 24-under standing on the 18th tee but then disaster struck for Cantlay, who found the waste bunker on the left off the tee and put his fourth shot into water following a penalty drop. He made a triple bogey there, and Kim made an easy par to lock down his victory.
“I just stayed really patient. I played my game plan, and I just got really lucky on the final hole,” Kim said. “Patrick has played so good this week, and I got really fortunate.”
Cantlay traded in a birdie on the first hole with a bogey on the very next hole, while Kim recorded pars on the first three holes. Kim took the lead with a seven-foot birdie putt on the fourth hole, with Cantlay once again going birdie-bogey on the fifth and sixth holes to remain one back.
Kim birdied the eighth and the ninth to make the turn at 22-under, two shots ahead of Cantlay, who birdied the ninth.
A seesaw match ensued on the back nine. Cantlay pulled into a tie with consecutive birdies at the 11th and 12th, only to see Kim pull away by two shots again with back-to-back birdies at the 13th and 14th.
Kim, however, missed a five-foot birdie attempt on the 15th green, allowing the American to close the gap to one with a birdie.
Kim then pushed his tee shot to rough at the 16th, en route to a disappointing par on the relatively easy par-five hole. Cantlay picked up another birdie there to pull into a tie at 24-under with two holes to play.
With NeSmith sitting three strokes back at that point, the tournament essentially turned into a match play between Kim and Cantlay.
On the 17th green, both players left their birdie attempts short from over 40 feet away, and they were all tied up going to the final hole.
Just when it seemed the two golfers were destined for a sudden death playoff, Cantlay hit his worst drive of the day off the 18th tee. He pulled his tee shot into the native area on the left, with the ball landing in the waste bunker among rocks and fescue.
Cantlay elected to play the ball but failed to punch it out to the fairway with his second shot. More disaster awaited Cantlay, who took a penalty drop and dunked his fourth shot into water guarding the front of the green. Cantlay made a triple bogey there.
After watching Cantlay’s collapse unfold from the center of the fairway, Kim safely reached the green in two and two-putted for the clinching par.
Kim had also gotten the better of Cantlay at the Presidents Cup last month. Representing the International Team, Kim and Kim Si-woo took down the favored US duo of Cantlay and Xander Schauffele in a fourball match, and Kim Joo-hyung’s exuberant celebration of his clinching birdie putt went viral on social media, turning the South Korean into an instant star.
Kim Joo-hyung earned his PGA Tour card for this season while playing on a special temporary membership last summer, earning enough FedEx Cup points for full-time status even before his breakthrough victory at the Wyndham Championship.
Kim then put on a show at the Presidents Cup, and his victory in Las Vegas was the latest validation of his considerable talent and promise for a bright future. (Yonhap)