Late birdies help Kim from behind to end two year winning drought

Ronan MacNamara

Si Woo Kim reacts to his birdie putt on the 18th green en route to victory in Hawaii (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Two closing birdies saw Si Woo Kim come from one behind with three to play to win the Sony Open in Hawaii for his first PGA Tour title in almost exactly two years.

The Korean fell one shot off the pace after his nearest challenger Hayden Buckley birdied the 16th, but he rallied with birdies on 17 and 18 to edge to eighteen-under and a final round of 64.

It’s the former Players champion’s fourth PGA Tour win having started the day three shots adrift of Buckley.


Kim who represented the Internationals at last year’s Presidents Cup roared out of the blocks with three successive birdies before two birdies and two bogeys before the turn saw him deadlocked with Buckley on fifteen-under.

Kim passed up several good birdie opportunities to pull away from Buckley but did land one on the 12th to keep pace with the American who eventually edged his nose back in front with a birdie on 14.

After dropping a shot on 15, Buckley recovered with a birdie on 16 and looked to be on his way to victory but after Kim notched two late birdies, he saw a 12-footer for birdie to force a playoff slip by the hole to give Kim the win.

“Yeah, it’s like first time winning like first event, so I think can’t be better than this,” said an elated Kim.

“So this is really exciting, and hopefully a lot of the season’s left. Hopefully trying to get more confidence and then like hopefully get more wins.”

Kim has always been extremely talented and he burst onto the scene by winning the PLAYERS aged just 21 in his rookie year on tour, but since then he has flattered to deceive, with his temper on the course coming into question as he often got in his own way.

He famously snapped his putter at the Masters while in contention a few years ago but now he looks a chip off the block of Tim Clark or Adam Scott with the broomstick putter as he enjoys lower expectations.

“Yeah, I think so. Like I won the rookie year here, and then after next year I won the like pretty much the fifth major championship. After like I was thinking was in the rookie year was thinking like I’m not a good player, and then here’s like too many good players here.

“But I won like rookie year after next year, so I was like more expectation and then more like nerves myself. I think that’s why a little bit hard time next couple years after PLAYERS.

“Yeah, just now no expectation much,” added Kim who is now back inside the top-50 in the world after collecting the $1.422m first prize cheque.

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