Satoshi Kodaira claims maiden victory at RBC Heritage

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Satoshi Kodaira claimed his maiden PGA Tour victory in a playoff at the RBC Heritage, draining a 25-footer for birdie on the third extra hole to defeat Si Woo Kim.

The Japanese player found himself six shots adrift of the leaders early on Sunday's final round, but posted an impressive five-under-par 66 in windy conditions at Harbour Town to set the clubhouse lead at 12-under. 

He birdied his opening three holes to close out a front-nine 33 before following it up with more birdies at the 10th, 14th and 15th holes to join Si Woo Kim at the top of the leaderboard.

Players Champion Kim had held the lead after nine holes, but struggled in the wind and on the greens of the back nine and dropped three shots to finish with a closing level-par 71, missing a six foot birdie chance on the last hole to win outright. 

Kim and Kodaira then returned to the par-four 18th twice but neither could break the deadlock, with the soon to be champion making an up-and-down for par on the second play-off hole to force a trip down the par-three 17th. 

Both players set up long birdie chances, but as Kim's slid by the cup, it was Kodaira who managed to hole from 25 feet to guarantee he would become the first Japanese player to win on the PGA Tour since Hideki Matsuyama at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational in August, 2017.

"I wasn't really thinking about winning," Kodaira said through a translator. He'd teed off almost an hour ahead of the final threesome of Kim, Ian Poulter and Luke List.

"I wasn't that nervous on the last putt," he said, "compared to the first two putts on 18."

"I was nervous going into the playoff, but I made that putt and I'm very, very happy to make that last putt."

After finishing T28 at the Masters the week before, the Japan Golf Tour member had earned a spot in next season's Sentry Tournament of Champions (among other tournaments), but has now verbally accepted his offer of PGA Tour membership as a result of his victory. 

"This is a stage I've been dreaming about," Kodaira said. "And having this opportunity to play [the PGA TOUR] fulltime is a dream come true."

"I didn't think it would come this quickly, (and) yes I will take full-time membership."

Bryson DeChambeau (66) and List (72) were tied for third, while third-round leader Poulter's bid for a second tour title in three weeks ended as he closed out a back-nine 40 to end up with a 75 and back in a tie for seventh.

WITB: Satoshi Kodaira 

Driver: PRGR RS F Prototype (Graphite Design Tour AD DI Quattro Tech 65TX shaft), 10.5 degrees

3-wood: TaylorMade M2 '17 (Graphite Design Tour AD DI Quattro Tech 75X shaft), 15 degrees

5-wood: PRGR iD Nabla Black (Graphite Design Tour AD GP Quattro Tech 75X shaft), 18 degrees

Utility: PRGR iD Nabla RS Tour (3-iron; Graphite Design Tour AD HY 105TX shaft)

Irons: PRGR Tune Forged 01 (4-PW; True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue shafts)

Wedges: PRGR iD Nabla Tour Forged (52 degrees; True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue shaft), Fourteen Golf RM-22 (60 degrees; True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue shaft)

Putter: Scotty Cameron Newport 2 prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x