Mo Yoshimoto

The Takeaway

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Si Woo Kim wins THE PLAYERS

Monday, May 15, 2017


THE PLAYERS

Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

 

 

World No. 75 Si Woo Kim overcame a 2-shot deficit with a bogey-free 3-under-par 33-36=69 to post 10-under 278, up three places on the day and good for a 3-shot win over runners-up Ian Poulter and Louis Oosthuizen.

 

At 21 years of age, the South Korean is the youngest-ever to hoist the crystal in the tourney's 44-year history, supplanting Adam Scott, who was 23 when he won in 2004.

 

Kim, a pre-tourney 400/1 outright, adds a second PGA TOUR title in his 61st career event, joining the 2016 Wyndham Championship (23 starts ago), where he was the 54-hole leader by four and won by five.

 

After kicking off in 69-72-68, he began in solo 4th on 7-under, two shy of overnight co-leaders J.B. Holmes and Kyle Stanley. Playing out of the penultimate twosome, Kim landed nine (of 14) fairways and only eight greens in regulation (GIR), but went 10-for-10 in scrambling and needed just 23 putts.

 

He circled three birdies at 1, 7 and 9, each from between 17 and 25 feet, to reach the break on 10-under, now one clear of Poulter who was one pairing ahead and turned in 2-under, and three better than Stanley who turned in 2-over.

 

Despite finding just three GIR on his inward half, Kim, eerily calm beyond his years, finished up with nine straight pars en route to the lone bogey-free lap in the finale.

 

His 69 and Poulter’s 71 were the only sub-par rounds among the final five twosomes on a breezy, pressure-packed Sunday:

 

 

Final twosome: Holmes crated to T41 after a career-tying-worst 84, one of four final rounds of 80 or worse, while Stanley, a second- and third-round co-leader, finished T4 with 3-over 75, four back. Of note, Stanley birdied the par-3 17th in all four rounds, becoming just the second player all-time to accomplish that (Paul Azinger, 1987).

 

Penultimate twosome: Paired with Kim, Oosthuizen, who was a second-round co-leader and began R4 in solo 3rd, patched together his second straight 1-over 73 after opening in 69-66. It’s his sixth runner-up finish in 127 career TOUR events and first top 10 at THE PLAYERS in seven tries. The South African’s lone TOUR title remains the 2010 Open Championship 111 starts ago.

 

Antepenultimate twosome: Paired with Poulter, Emiliano Grillo shot 3-over 75 to finish in 11th-place. As for Poulter, this was the 41-year-old's fifth career runner-up in 225 career events and his second top 10 in 14 appearances, joining solo 2nd in 2009. The Englishman’s most recent of two TOUR titles came at the 2012 WGC-HSBC Champions 76 starts ago.

 

Fourth-to-last twosome: Past PLAYERS champ and Masters winner Sergio Garcia labored to a 6-over 78, tumbling 23 places to T30, while PGA TOUR rookie Patrick Cantlay stumbled with 5-over 77 for T22, dropping 15 spots.

 

Fifth-to-last twosome: Comprised of Alex Noren, who shot 73 (more on him below), and Pat Perez, who shot 76 for T22, down 12 places on the day.

 

 

Kim wins in his 19th start of the season, is a third top 25 and second top 10, joining T10 at the no-cut CIMB Classic back in October (his first start of 2016-17).

 

He’s now made one more cut (eight) than he’s missed (seven), and also has four mid-tourney WDs due to back and neck issues.

 

The victory comes in Kim’s second PLAYERS appearance after T23 (68-70-72-74) on debut last year. Of note, that T23 was best among 25 first-timers, a definite foreshadowing that he could handle TPC Sawgrass.

 

Most probably have forgotton by now, but Kim was also one of only two TOUR rookies to make it to the season-ending TOUR Championship last year, along with Grillo, and each posted T10s, though Grillo would go on to win Rookie of the Year.

 

With the win, Kim earns a 5-year exemption on TOUR, a 3-year exemption to the Masters, and an invite to the 2018 SBS Tournament of Champions. He’d previously qualified for the season’s remaining three majors as well as the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

 

The best field in golf was assembled in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, boasting a Strength of Field (SOF) rating of 844.

 

Kim banks 80.00 world-ranking points with the victory and leapfrogs 47 places to career-high 28th in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR).

 

He earns 600 FedExCup (FEC) points and jumps 111 spots to 21st in the FEC standings. His career high is 15th after the 2016 TOUR Championship.

 

Notably, Kim has since pulled out of this coming week’s AT&T Byron Nelson to rest his sore back.

 

 

Kim’s 1st-place prize: $1,890,000

 

 

Kim's Position by Round:

 

R1: T7

R2: T16

R3: 4th

 

 

Field Scoring Average:

 

This was the 44th edition of THE PLAYERS and 36th consecutive at TPC Sawgrass, which went through a renovation and partial redesign since last year’s playing.

 

7,189 yards; par 72 (36-36)

 

R1: 72.819; R2: 73.182; R3: 74.037; R4: 73.606*

 

Total: 73.291

 

Note: Round 4 was the highest scoring average of the season for final rounds.

 

 

Kim’s rounds: 69-72-68-69 for 15.643 SG: Total.

 

 

Key Stats:

 

Kim was 1st in par-4 scoring and scrambling; T1 with no double bogeys or worse; 2nd in SG: Off-the-Tee and SG: Tee-to-Green; 3rd in SG: Around-the-Green and total putts.  

 

 

Kim’s Weekly Stats (ranking of 71 players):

 

Eagle: 1 (T6)

Birdies: 14 (T34)

Bogeys: 6 (T3)

Double Bogeys or Worse: 0 (T1)

 

Par-3 Scoring: 3.13 (T27)

Par-4 Scoring: 3.83 (1st)

Par-5 Scoring: 4.69 (T36)

 

Driving Distance (all drives): 287.0 yards (8th)

Driving Accuracy: 39/56 (T15) at 69.64 percent

GIR: 45/72 (T37) at 62.50 percent

Proximity to hole: 43’2” (T39)

Putts per GIR: 1.756 (T26)

Total Putts: 108 (T3)

Putts by Round: 29-30-26-23

Scrambling: 22/27 (1st) at 81.48 percent

 

SG: Off-the-Tee: 5.460 (2nd)

SG: Approach-the-Green: 4.064 (18th)

SG: Around-the-Green: 4.947 (3rd)

SG: Tee-to-Green: 14.471 (2nd)

SG: Putting: 1.172 (37th)

 

 

Draw:

 

A total of 82 players from a field of 145 made the 36-hole cut of 2-over 146:

 

42 (of 71) EARLY/late; 1 WD

 

40 (of 72) LATE/early; 1 WD

 

Note: Since more than 78 players made the 36-hole cut, a second cut of low 70 and ties came after 54 holes (5-over 221), leaving 71 players.

 

 

10 players finished in the top 10 with EIGHT of those EARLY/late, including the champion and both runners-up:

 

EARLY/late: Si Woo Kim (Won), Ian Poulter (T2), Louis Oosthuizen (T2), Kyle Stanley (T4), Brendan Steele (T6), Lucas Glover (T6), Francesco Molinari (T6), Alex Noren (10th)

 

LATE/early: Rafa Cabrera Bello (T4), Adam Scott (T6)

 

Note: Cabrera Bello recorded the first-ever albatross at the par-5 16th in R4.

 

 

Of the 82 players that made the 36-hole cut, 80 of them had a previous top-10 finish on TOUR. The two who did not set or matched career-TOUR-bests:

 

Bernd Wiesberger: Making his 36th career TOUR start and fourth PLAYERS appearance, the non-member and World No. 29 finished a career-best T12 on 2-under 286 (75-71-68-72). His previous best was T14 at the 2016 WGC-Cadillac (Doral).

 

Yuta Ikeda: Making his 34th career TOUR start and tourney debut, the non-member and World No. 49 finished T22 on even-par 288 (73-69-72-74), matching his career best of T22 at the 2010 WGC-CA Championship (Doral).

 

 

Yahoo! Low Rounds:

 

R1: William McGirt, Mackenzie Hughes (67)

R2: Louis Oosthuizen, Kyle Stanley (66)

R3: Pat Perez (66)

R4: Dustin Johnson, Brendan Steele (68)

 

 

Bogey-free Rounds:

 

R1: Mackenzie Hughes (67), Alex Noren (68), Jon Rahm (68), Lee Westwood (70)

R2: Louis Oosthuizen (66), Smylie Kaufman (67)

R3: Ian Poulter (71)

R4: Si Woo Kim (69)

 

 

Leader/co-leaders by Round:

 

R1 (co): William McGirt finished T22 (67-75-71-75). Drops to 0-for-5 as 18-hole leader/co-leader.

R1 (co): Mackenzie Hughes finished T16 (67-75-74-71). Drops to 1-for-2 as 18-hole leader/co-leader.

R2 (co): Louis Oosthuizen finished T2 (69-66-73-73). Drops to 1-for-2 as 36-hole leader/co-leader.

R2: (co): Kyle Stanley finished T4 (69-66-72-75). Drops to 0-for-3 as 36-hole leader/co-leader.

R3 (co): J.B. Holmes finished T41 (68-69-70-84). Drops to 3-for-7 as 54-hole leader/co-leader.

R3 (co): Kyle Stanley (above). Drops to 0-for-2 as 54-hole leader/co-leader.

 

 

Top 10 in OWGR (this week’s finishes):

 

1. Dustin Johnson (T12)

2. Rory McIlroy (T35)

3. Hideki Matsuyama (T22); UP one

4. Jason Day (T60) as defender; DOWN one

5. Sergio Garcia (T30); UP one

6. Jordan Spieth (CUT); DOWN one

7. Henrik Stenson (T16)

8. Justin Rose (T65)

9. Adam Scott (T6); UP two

10. Rickie Fowler (T60); DOWN one

 

Note: Justin Thomas (T75/MDF), dropped from No. 10 to No. 11

 

 

24 of the Top 25 in OWGR were in the field and 48 of the Top 50:

 

Of the 48, 5 finished in the top 10:

 

World No. 11 Adam Scott (T6), No. 13 Alex Noren (10th), No. 33 Louis Oosthuizen (T2), No. 34 Francesco Molinari (T6), No. 35 Rafa Cabrera Bello (T4).

 

In total, exactly 10 players finished in the top 10. Average world ranking: 75th

 

 

Other Notable Finishes:

 

No. 12 Jon Rahm (T72/MDF)

No. 14 Paul Casey (T22)

No. 15 Patrick Reed (T22)

No. 18 Matt Kuchar (82/MDF)

No. 19 Brooks Koepka (T16)

No. 20 Phil Mickelson (T41)

No. 60 Brendan Steele (T6)

No. 103 Chris Kirk (T12)

No. 124 Lucas Glover (T6)

No. 137 Smylie Kaufman (T12)

 

 

Consecutive top 10s on TOUR:

 

Kevin Tway (T5-3rd-T3)

Bud Cauley (T5-T10-T9)

 

 

Consecutive top-10 streaks ended:

 

Dustin Johnson (T12-T2-1st-1st-1st-3rd)

Brooks Koepka (T16-T5-2nd)

Ryan Palmer (CUT-4th-T6)

Cameron Smith (CUT-P1-T6)

 

 

First-timers and/or Rookies:

 

First-timers: 18

Top-10 finishes: 1

 

Alex Noren: Making his tourney debut, the World No. 13 backed up with a 1-over-par 38-35=73 to finish up on 4-under 284, down three spots to solo 10th.

 

After opening in 68-71-72, the 34-year-old began in a three-way T7 on 5-under, four adrift. He conjured seven (of 14) fairways and nine GIR, gaining 1.530 strokes tee-to-green, No. 1 in the latter with a cumulative 14.770.

 

The Swede, whose U.S. base is Jupiter, Florida, outbalanced three birdies with four bogeys, posting -0.924 SG: Putting, finishing 69th (of 71) in SGP at -5.127.

 

This was his seventh start of the season and is a third top 25 and second top 10, joining a career-TOUR-best T5 at the WGC-Match Play. The non-member is 31.222 FEC points short of Special Temporary Membership.

 

 

TOUR Rookies: 5

Top-10 finishes: 0

 

Mackenzie Hughes: The first-round co-leader and World No. 118 was top rookie with T16 on 1-under 287 (67-75-74-71).

 

It’s the seventh time in 20 starts that the 26-year-old Canadian has claimed top-rookie honors, highlighted by his playoff win at The RSM Classic back in November.

 

 

Top 10 in FEC standings (points):

 

1. Dustin Johnson (2,214)

2. Hideki Matsuyama (1,865); UP one

3. Justin Thomas (1,855); DOWN one

4. Jon Rahm (1,499)

5. Pat Perez (1,381)

6. Adam Hadwin (1,229)

7. Jordan Spieth (1,192)

8. Rickie Fowler (1,074)

9. Brendan Steele (1,062); UP two

10. Brian Harman (1,047); DOWN one

 

Note: Justin Rose (984) dropped from No. 10 to No. 11

 

 

Season Trends:

 

 

16 winners were in their 20s (Kim: age: 21)

9 were in their 30s

3 were in their 40s

 

 

19 of the 25 winners (minus Match Play and team-Zurich) have emerged out of the FINAL group on Sunday. The seven outliers:

 

Si Woo Kim (PLAYERS): Penultimate twosome; erased 2-shot deficit w/ 3-under 69; won by 3

 

Brian Harman (Wells Fargo): Third-to-last twosome: erased 2-shot deficit w/ 4-under 68; won by 1

 

Wesley Bryan (Heritage): Third-to-last twosome: erased 4-shot deficit w/ 4-under 67; won by 1.

 

Marc Leishman (API): Penultimate twosome: erased 3-shot deficit w/ 3-under 69; won by 1.

 

Hideki Matsuyama (WMPO): Penultimate threesome: erased 4-shot deficit w/ 5-under 66; won in playoff.

 

Jon Rahm (Farmers): Fifth-to-last threesome: erased 3-shot deficit w/ 7-under 65; won by 3.

 

Brendan Steele (Safeway): Third-to-last threesome: erased 4-shot deficit w/ 7-under 65; won by 1.

 

 

54 hole leaders/co-leaders (minus team-Zurich):

 

Converted: Hideki Matsuyama (WGC-HSBC), Mackenzie Hughes (RSM Classic), Justin Thomas (SBS TOC), Justin Thomas (Sony), Jordan Spieth (AT&T Pro-Am), Dustin Johnson (Genesis), Rickie Fowler (Honda), Adam Hadwin (Valspar), Sergio Garcia (Masters), Kevin Chappell (VTO)

 

FailedPatton Kizzire (Safeway), Anirban Lahiri (CIMB), Luke ListChris Kirk (Sanderson Farms), Lucas Glover (Shriners), Gary Woodland (OHL), Adam Hadwin (CareerBuilder), Patrick RodgersBrandt Snedeker (FIO), Byeong Hun An (WMPO), Justin Thomas (WGC-Mexico), Kevin KisnerCharley Hoffman (API), Chris Stroud (PRO), Sung Kang (SHO), Justin Rose (co-Masters), Jason Dufner (Heritage), Patrick Reed (Wells Fargo), J.B. Holmes, Kyle Stanley (PLAYERS)

 

 

Up Next:

 

The TOUR heads back to Texas for this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson at TPC Four Seasons Resort in Irving.

 

Sergio Garcia is the defending champion after erasing a 3-shot deficit with 2-under-par 68 to post 15-under 265, and then eliminated overnight leader Brooks Koepka with par on the first playoff hole to Koepka’s double bogey-6.

 

Stay tuned to this space for all the latest player news and analysis as the TOUR readies for its 28th tournament of the season (of 47).



You can find Mo on Twitter @Bears3423.
Email :Mo Yoshimoto



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