LAS VEGAS — South Korean professional golfer Tom Kim successfully defended his title at the Shriners Open in Las Vegas, making him the youngest player to win three PGA Tour titles since Tiger Woods.
Kim fended off Adam Hadwin to successfully defend his title in Las Vegas.
The 21-year-old from South Korea picked up his third career title, his 5-under 66 propelling him to 20-under 264 for the week at TPC Summerlin.
Kim made three birdies in a four-hole stretch on the back nine before saving three straight pars.
Hadwin was the only player going who could catch him, but the Canadian put a ball in the water on the par-5 16th en route to a costly bogey before he birdied the 18th. He signed for a 67 and finished one stroke back.
“I really felt confident in myself,” Kim said according to AP. “I knew that if I did me I was going to be able to do it. I’m stoked to get this one.”
He won in Las Vegas a year ago, beating Patrick Cantlay in a playoff at the TPC Summerlin, when the Shiners Children’s Open was early in the season. Now, the Las Vegas event is still part of the same season because the PGA Tour goes to a calendar season starting in 2024.
Nelson won the San Francisco Open in January 1944, and the same tournament in December of 1944, both times at Harding Park.
This one was up for grabs until Kim seized control on the par-5 16th.
With an hour left in the tournament, there was a six-way tie for the lead and 12 players were separated by a single shot. The key stretch at the TPC Summerlin was holes No. 13 through No. 16, which ranked as four of the five easiest holes in the final round.
Taylor Pendrith was tied for the lead with a birdie on the 13th, but had to settle for pars the rest of that stretch. K.H. Lee made all pars.
Then, it became a two-man race between Kim and Hadwin, playing in the final group with Kim holding a one-shot advantage.
Both birdied the 13th, Hadwin with a 35-foot birdie putt that rimmed all the way around the cup before dropping. Both birdied the reachable par-4 15th, Kim with a tough up-and-down and birdie putt from 12 feet, Hadwin narrowly missing a 25-foot eagle attempt.
It turned on the par-5 16th. Kim hit to the fat of the green in two, 50 feet away for eagle. Hadwin knew he missed his shot right after contact and it came up well short and into the water.
Hadwin missed a 6-foot par putt after his penalty drop, and Kim three-putted – he had to make a 5-footer on his third one – for par.
“I completely whiffed it, up and out of it, and unfortunately one of my worst swings of the day at the least opportune time,” Hadwin said according to AP.
“I feel like you dump it in the water there on 16, and I certainly by no means gave the tournament, but I would have liked to have hit a more quality golf shot and put a little bit more pressure on Tom coming down the stretch.”
That gave Kim a two-shot lead with two to play, and he closed with solid pars. Kim finished at 20-under 264.
“It’s been a grind trying to figure it out,” Kim said. “My first full season, trying to live up to expectations of a great year. It’s been humbling sometimes.”
The victory moves Kim to No. 11 in the world ranking.