Players champ Kim ready for military service

Si Woo Kim, 21, became the youngest victor of The Players Championship, earning roughly $1.9 million ($1.89 million precisely) for his efforts. He did not have a bogey in his final round, paired with three front nine birdies gave him a winning score of 69 on Sunday.

At 21, Kim is the youngest player to win The Players Championship in its 44-year history.

It was the second Players runner-up finish for Poulter after 2009.

Kim, the US PGA's youngest player, won his first tour title last August at Greensboro, but hadn't managed a top-20 US PGA finish since last October and was in only his second Players, having shared 23rd in 2016. Kim won the Championship.

He was playing on a major medical extension from a foot injury past year and had 10 tournaments to earn enough money or FedEx Cup points to keep full status. On a final round where one of the overnight leaders, J.B. Holmes, ended up shooting a twelve-over 84, Kim didn't let the grueling Pete Dye designed course get the better of him.

Kim also soared in the world rankings, jumping from 75th to 28th. The next South Korean on the list is Wang Jeung-hun, a three-time European Tour victor, at No. 57. He also had an eagle on the sixteenth hole during the first round. But Kim opened his final round with a birdie and then added two more at the seventh and the ninth to get to 10-under. Kim hit the 17th green and two-putted from 45 feet, and he smashed another drive right down the middle.

Poulter played 30 consecutive holes without a bogey before a bogey at the par-4 No. 12 in the final round.

Despite only hitting eight of eighteen greens in regulation on Sunday, Kim kept cool under the pressure, hitting one fantastic chip after another. It will be interesting to see if Kim can build from this success, winning more tournaments this year, or competing in majors.

"So I'm ready for that", said Kim.

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"I was a little pressured that I qualified at Q-school when I was 17 years old", Kim said through a translator.

"A few of them we're working through but I think when I look back and I reflect on this week it has been a big week. That's why I could do well".

Three times Kim saved par on hard bunkers shots, but he said his best up-and-down was on the par-4 14th hole - the week's second-most hard hole. He has now moved back inside the world's top 100 and has already qualified for the end-of-season FedEx Cup play-offs, meaning he can carefully plot his summer schedule. Five years ago, Kim made a decision to try Q-school on the PGA Tour because it was the final year for players to gain instant access to the big leagues.

On a TPC Sawgrass course where anything can go wrong without notice, Kim was the only player to go bogey-free Sunday and closed with a 3-under 69 for a three-shot victory in golf's biggest tournament this side of the majors. "I was confident that I could do well here as long as I had my short game in place".

"So that kind of advice actually helped me a lot".

Kim recently changed his putting grip.

Poulter looked to have lost his PGA Tour card last month, only for a review of the rules to hand him a reprieve for the rest of the season.

"You have to respect some good golf and that's exactly what he's done", said the Englishman, who played his last seven holes at 2-over.

  • Tabitha Byrd