Si Woo Kim becomes youngest ever Players Champion



Si Woo Kim carded a bogey-free final round of 69 to become the youngest ever winner of The Players Championship - at just 21 years old.

Kim began the day two shots back of JB Holmes and Kyle Stanley, but a birdie on the first hole on Sunday moved him up the leaderboard as the others faltered in the blustery conditions. 

Ian Poulter briefly joined him early on at the top during his quest for a first victory since 2012, but Kim birdied the seventh and ninth holes to become the only player to make it to 10-under-par for the week, and would not relinquish that lead for the remainder of the round.

Poulter reduced the deficit to one to get back in to contention, but as Kim scrambled for par on the first two holes of the back nine, the 41-year-old gave away his chance at glory with a dropped shot on the 12th and several missed opportunitiies.

Another dropped shot on the 18th (which included one of the most impressive shots of the day) for Poulter gave Kim a three-shot lead standing on the 18th tee - where he went on to make par and history at TPC Sawgrass.

After his victory in the Wyndham Championship last year, Kim becomes just the fourth player in the last 25 years to win twice on the PGA Tour before the age of 22, following in the footsteps of Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia and Jordan Spieth.

He credited his first victory as the key to dealing with the pressure on Sunday, which now gives him another five year exemption on the PGA Tour.

“Because of that experience,” Kim said through his interpreter, “I could be relieved and I could be very stable. I just focused on myself and I didn’t try to think about others’ scores.”

“I still cannot believe that I’m the champion, and I’m the youngest champion for this championship. And I’m very honored to be the champion for this amazing fifth major event. I’m looking forward to working hard from now on.”

What's in the bag: Players Champion Si Woo Kim

And while Kim now looks in line to make the President's Cup team, it was the rejuvinated Ian Poulter that grabbed much of the headlines.

Just a few weeks ago Poulter thought he had lost his Tour card, before Brian Gay realised there had been a clerical error which gave both him and Poulter back those cards just a few days later. This week, he was in a position to win.

“To have two, three weeks ago been in a position where I wasn't playing THE PLAYERS and potentially didn't have a card to play,” Poulter said, “and was looking to write nice letters to Jack for Memorial and all of those great tournaments that I'd like to play in -- things change pretty quick with good golf, and that's what I've done this week. I've played good golf"

Elsewhere, it was a day of mixed fortunes for the players at the top of the World rankings. Defending champion Jason Day and Olympic Champion Justin Rose both carded 8-over-par rounds of 80, while Rickie Fowler went one better at 79, and Garcia at 78.

Rory McIlroy struggled with both his new equipment and a pain in his back to a three-over 75, but both World No.1 Dustin Johnson and Hideki Matsuyama had impressive final rounds,  with DJ's 68 leaving him in T12 and Matusyama's 69 putting him T22. 

Shot of the day from Rafa Cabrera Bello makes Players history

Spain's Rafa Cabrera Bello made Players history, producing an astonishing final three holes to finish in a tie for fourth with Kyle Stanley.

Cabrera Bello holed out from 181 yards for the first albatross in tournament history on the 16th, then followed that with another two on the 17th, before holing from 35 feet for par on the last after hooking his tee shot into the water.

Watch his albatross in the video below!