Thursday, 17 August, 2017

Poulter completes a surprising turnaround at Players

Hilda Schwartz | 17 May, 2017, 01:42

The South Korean, 21, claimed a three-shot victory on Sunday, finishing clear of Ian Poulter and Louis Oosthuizen to become the youngest victor in the history of the "fifth major".

After his victory in the Wyndham Championship last year, Kim is the fourth player in the last 25 years to win twice on the PGA Tour before the age of 22, following in the footsteps of Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia and Jordan Spieth.

His bogey-free 69 at Sawgrass saw him finish at 10-under - three shots clear of Ian Poulter and Louis Oosthuizen.

In doing so, the 21-year-old became the youngest victor of event, breaking the mark previously held by Adam Scott, who won the championship as a 23-year-old in 2004.

"I still can't believe I'm the champion, and I'm very excited that I am the youngest champion", Kim said during the post-tournament interview.

"It was a big shock to the system to hit one of those nasty shanks when I've hit it as good as I have all week, but the fourth shot was pretty special, from one of the worst shots I've ever hit to one of the very best", he said.

Along with the win came a cash prize of $1.89 million.

The smart money, if an global player overtook American co-leaders J.B. Holmes and Kyle Stanley, was on veterans such as Poulter, Oosthuizen, Adam Scott (the previous youngest victor, at 23 in 2004) or Masters champion Sergio Garcia.

Kim said he drew inspiration from Choi, who still leads all South Korean players with eight career PGA Tour victories.

Perks was No. 203 in the world who had never won on the PGA Tour or competed in The Players Championship until the 35-year-old Kiwi chipped in for eagle on the 16th hole, made a 30-foot birdie putt on the island-green 17th and chipped in for par from behind the 18th green to win by two.

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Kim's triumph saw him replace Australia's Adam Scott as the youngest ever victor of the Players Championship, which is regarded as golf's unofficial fifth major. Other than Kim, Wang Jeung-hun and An Byeong-hun are listed at 57th and 58th in the world ranking as of Sunday.

Most of his competitors at The Players were impressed with Kim's calm demeanor.

"I really wish we could have that benefit", said Kim, whose only get-out looks to be Olympic success in Tokyo in 2020.

Scott finished as the leading Australian in a tie for sixth at five under after closing with a solid 70.

But Kim's confidence elevated to a different level after his third-round 68, putting him in the mix with a half-dozen other players and making him feel like his game was good enough to hold up.

J. B. Holmes, left, and his caddie Brandon Parsons, look at the fifth fairway during the final round of The Players Championship golf tournament Sunday, May 14, 2017, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

The bogey on the 18th was only the second for Poulter over the final 46 of the tournament.

Ian Poulter's tie for second place with Oosthuizen caps a memorable comeback for the Ryder Cup star.

Statistics and scores going into The Players Championship would not have led anyone to pay attention to Kim.

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