PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA – Kim Si-woo walked up to the 16th green at the TPC Sawgrass and couldn’t resist looking across the water at an island.
For those trying to catch Kim in The Players Championship, and for thousands of fans who anticipated the drama this tournament so often delivers, the infamous par-3 17th hole with its island green represented the best chance that the pressure might finally get to him.
He never flinched.
“I wasn’t nervous at all because I was leading,” Kim said. “I just focused on the middle of the green.”
Without so much as a deep breath, the 21-year-old from South Korea drew back his wedge, fired it at the middle of the green and resumed his march into the record book as the youngest winner of The Players Championship in its 44-year history.
And it wasn’t just that hole.
Kim also drilled his tee shot down the middle of the 18th fairway, setting up one final par — from off the green, of course — to cap a final round that was flawless, at least on his scorecard. He was the only player Sunday who didn’t make bogey in his round of 3-under 69 for a three-shot victory.
He never trailed after making a 25-foot birdie putt on the seventh hole. During the crucial stretch on the back nine of the Players Stadium Course, Kim never faced a par putt longer than 2 feet. It was as though he had been in this position before, even though he had only one previous PGA Tour victory and this was only his second time competing in The Players Championship.
“He played like someone that was doing it for five or six years, like it was just another round of golf,” said Louis Oosthuizen, who played the final round with Kim and finished in a tie for second with Ian Poulter.
“It just shows you how good a player he is and how cool and calm he is,” Oosthuizen said. “Never once did he look flustered at all.”