Kim from South Korea clinches back-to-back PGA Vegas titles for the second time.

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Kim from South Korea clinches back-to-back PGA Vegas titles for the second time.

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LOS ANGELES, Oct 16, 2023 (BSS/AFP) – Tom Kim, hailing from South Korea, secured his second consecutive victory at the PGA Shriners Children’s Open on Sunday, edging out Canada’s Adam Hadwin in a gripping final stretch to claim his third career PGA title.

The 21-year-old prodigy from Seoul delivered an impressive five-under par 66 in the final round, concluding 72 holes with a remarkable 20-under 264, triumphing over Hadwin by a single stroke at the TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas.

Kim displayed his prowess with a sublime 12-foot birdie putt on the 15th hole, while Hadwin faced a setback with a bogey on the par-5 16th. Although Hadwin responded with a closing birdie, it proved too little, too late.

“Number three is so sweet,” Kim rejoiced.

Reflecting on his performance, Kim remarked, “It was a long day. I just really felt confident in myself and I was playing really well. I knew if I kind of just stuck to my game, I was going to be able to do it.”

Hadwin’s valiant 25-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole secured him a second-place finish at 265, just one shot ahead of Americans Eric Cole and J.T. Poston, Sweden’s Alex Noren, and Canadian Taylor Pendrith.

Ranked 16th in the world, Kim, who was a runner-up in this year’s British Open at Royal Liverpool, not only clinched last year’s Vegas title but also triumphed at the 2022 Wyndham Championship. However, adding to his trophy collection had proven elusive until now.

“It has been a long season,” Kim admitted. “I’m very fortunate to defend. I’ve learned so much this year. It has been a blessing. It has been very humbling.

“Last year after going off such a great run, then not feeling exactly myself mid-year, it has been a grind trying to figure it out.

“It’s my first full season, just trying to live up to that expectation — great year last year, how can it get better? It has been humbling.”

Kim kicked off the game with birdies on three of the first four holes, only to face setbacks with consecutive bogeys at five and six, temporarily losing the lead.

Eric Cole, the son of professional golfers Laura Baugh and Bobby Cole, set the bar with an impressive early score of 62.

“Conditions were very good for scoring, no wind and greens were very good,” Cole stated. “And I switched back to an old putter today so that might have helped.”

Noren showcased his skill, stringing together three consecutive birdies starting from the par-3 eighth hole, and later securing birdies on the par-5 13th and 16th holes, matching Cole’s performance in the clubhouse.

It was at this crucial juncture that Kim mounted his comeback, sinking a three-foot birdie putt at the par-5 ninth, followed by six-foot birdie putts at 12 and the par-5 13th, seizing the lead at an impressive 19-under.

Hadwin fiercely contested the lead with three birdies in four holes, the final one coming after a magnificent drive at the par-4 15th, and a two-putt from 24 feet, bringing him to 19-under.

Kim responded with another brilliant display, sinking a 12-foot birdie putt at the 15th to reach an outstanding 20-under, regaining the lead.

In a pivotal moment, Hadwin’s second shot at the par-5 16th found water, resulting in a bogey. Meanwhile, Kim calmly sank a tense five-foot par putt, extending his lead to two strokes. He maintained his composure on the 17th and 18th holes, successfully fending off Hadwin, despite the latter’s late birdie.

Hadwin, ranked 56th, celebrated his sole PGA victory at the 2017 Valspar Championship, and this year, he secured a runner-up position against American Rickie Fowler at Detroit.

Reference

www.bssnews.net/sports/152957

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