Kodaira outlasts Kim in RBC Heritage playoff for first PGA win
4/16/2018 2:07:37 AM EST
Satoshi Kodaira of Japan became the latest hero from his golf-mad country to win on the PGA Tour when he rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt on the third sudden-death playoff hole to defeat Si Woo Kim of South Korea and capture the RBC Heritage Classic at Harbour Town Golf Links on Sunday in Hilton Head, SC., which was played in cool and blustery conditions.
Kim and Kodaira ended the final round tied at 12-under 272 and went back to the 18th tee to begin a playoff, the 10th on Tour this season.
Both golfers parred the first playoff hole, and rolled right back up the fairway and across the marsh to play No. 18 again. They each parred the hole for a second time and headed to the par-3 17th to try to decide the title.
It was Kodaira's putter that decided things. Both players found the putting surface on their tee shots, with Kodaira holding the honors. He calmly rolled in the putt and watched as Kim's effort from 21 feet fell eight inches short, granting the 28-year-old from Tokyo his first PGA Tour victory after starting the day five shots out of the lead.
"I wasn't that nervous over the last putt as I was on the first two on 18," Kodaira said of his winning stroke. "I hit it right where I aimed, and it rolled in beautifully."
Kodaira is the fifth different player from Japan to win on the PGA Tour. He said afterward that he will play full-time in America.
"Right now everyone in Japan is sleeping, but they will be very surprised when they wake up and see that I won," Kodaira said. "I'm expecting a lot of texts and phone calls -- and I'm very excited.
"I was looking at the leaderboard all day, and I thought for a while I would be in line for a fourth- or fifth-place finish. Once I posted 12 under and the weather started to get worse, I thought I might have a chance."
Kodaira fired a 66 on Sunday in a round that sported seven birdies, the last of which came from 11 feet on the par-5 15th, and two bogeys, including on the 17th when he missed the green in regulation and two-putted from 24 feet. He finished on Sunday about an hour before Kim.
Kim (who shot even-par 71 on Sunday) surged to the lead with three birdies on the front-nine, including on both of the par-5s, but gave back those strokes on the way in, bogeying the 12th, the par-5 15th and, ultimately the 17th to fall back into a tie with Kodaira.
Second-round leader Bryson DeChambeau also was 5-under on Sunday and finished in a tie for third with Luke List (72) at 273, one shot out of the playoff.
Webb Simpson (68) and Billy Horschel (72) ended up tied for fifth at 274, two shots out of the playoff.
Third-round leader Ian Poulter of England, Kevin Streelman, Patrick Cantlay, Bill Haas, Chesson Hadley and Kevin Kisner ended up tied for seventh with South Korea's Byeong Hun An at 275, three strokes in arrears.
Kodaira has won six times in Japan and has made 10 cuts in 15 events on the PGA Tour. He tied for 28th at the Masters last week at even-par-288.
Kim won the Players Championship last year at 21, becoming the youngest titleist in the event's history. This season he has four top 10s, including a third-place finish at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in Mexico in November.
Kim missed putts between 4-8 feet on holes 15, 16, 17 and 18 to end up in a playoff after 72 holes of competition.
"Rather than it being nerves, I think with the weather kind of slowed the greens down and it kind of affected them, how I made the putts," Kim said after the playoff. "But I tried my best and the putts didn't drop. I didn't have the momentum going obviously on the final hole in regulation -- I missed a short one. But I give props to my opponent, he made a great putt on the last one."
DeChambeau lost his chance to win this event on Saturday when he shot a 75, the second-highest score of the day and nine strokes worse than he carded in the final round. But he proved his affinity for the course and his ability to go low even with the harsh conditions.
"As the day went on it got tougher and tougher," DeChambeau said. "Once we got to No. 10 it was brutal. The wind was moving like, I don't know, 15, 20 miles an hour. Brutal. Putting is the worst. You can't control it. You hit a putt and you think it's going to break two inches and it doesn't."
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson fired 67 on Sunday and finished in a seven-player group five shots out of the playoff after playing in this event for the first time since 2009.
"I felt like I played really well," Johnson said. "I played the golf course pretty good tee to green. I struggled on the greens a bit. Other than that, if I putt well, I should be right up there with a chance to win."
The PGA Tour heads back to Texas next week for the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio.
--Field Level Media