Who is Si Woo Kim? THE PLAYERS Champion, that’s who

A look at Si Woo Kim, the winner of THE PLAYERS Championship.

Si Woo Kim isn’t exactly a household name but he sure made a name for himself this week at THE PLAYERS Championship.

Kim, who has only ever been coached by his father, was brilliant this week at the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. He trailed by just two shots after the first round, shooting a 3-under 69 with three birdies, an eagle and just two bogeys. He wasn’t quite as sharp on Day 2 but still managed an even-par 72 to stay at 3-under for the tournament but was six shots back of Louis Oosthuizen and Kyle Stanley, both of whom shot 66 on Friday. However, he got himself right back into contention on Saturday, firing a 68 in the third round with five birdies, including a 2 at the famed 17th hole, and just one bogey after an unfortunate mistake at the par-5 16th.

Si Woo Kim started his round on Sunday in solo fourth at 7-under, two shots behind Stanley and J.B. Holmes and one shot back of Oosthuizen, who was his playing partner for the final round. But as just about everyone else buckled under the final-day pressure, Kim rose to the occasion and shined, coming right out of the gate with a birdie at No. 1. After pars at the next five holes, the youngster birdied two of the next three holes for a front-nine 3-under 33 to get himself to 10-under, the first to reach that number all week as the course played extremely difficult in the final round.

As bogeys began to pile up all over TPC Sawgrass, Kim remained calm and made par after par after par on the back nine. Even when he hit an errant shot and got himself in trouble, he was able to recover nicely with some great sand play, brilliant chipping and excellent course management, maintaining his lead throughout the final nine holes. Playing one group ahead of Kim, Ian Poulter tried valiantly to keep himself in it, including that brilliant shot at 18, but just wasn’t able to catch the leader and with a clutch par at 16, a fantastic two-putt par at 17 and another nice one at the 18th, Si Woo Kim became the youngest-ever winner of THE PLAYERS Championship, besting Adam Scott’s mark by nearly two years , shooting a 36 on the back nine to finish with a 3-under 69 and a 10-under 278 for the week. Quite impressive.

So Si Woo Kim is now THE PLAYERS Champion but who exactly is he? How did he get here? As you’ll see, early success turned sour but persistence and the will to win ultimately triumphed.

The 21-year-old, whose given name is actually Kim Si-Woo, was born in Seoul, South Korea and is currently the youngest member of the PGA Tour and also has the distinction of being the youngest man in history to graduate from the PGA Tour Qualifying School, finishing tied for 20th back in 2012 at just 17 years, five months and six days old (or young) at the time. However, due to tour rules, Kim couldn’t become a full-time member until he turned 18, which he did in the summer of 2013. He played in eight PGA Tour events that season, missing the cut in seven of them and withdrawing from the eighth. He also split his time on the Web.com Tour and made four cuts in seven events, his best finish being a tie for 11th at the Mid-Atlantic Championship, which got him into the top 1000 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time, jumping from No. 1041 to No. 910 that week.

Kim spent his entire 2014 season on the Web.com Tour and struggled, missing the cut in 15 of the 19 events he played. The only saving grace of the season was a third-place finish at the Cleveland Open. However, he was able to turn things around in 2015 and made the cut in 18 of 25 events he played and also picked up his first-ever victory at the Stonebrae Classic, which vaulted him from 734th in the world to No. 363. He was the second-youngest winner in tour history behind only Jason Day. He would also earn a second-place finish at News Sentinel Open and a T-18 at the Web.com Tour Championship put him in the top ten on the money list, which earned him a spot back on the PGA Tour for 2016.

With the new wraparound format, Si Woo Kim got right to work and played in five PGA events at the end of 2015, nabbing three top-25 finishes while missing two cuts. As the year turned, he finished in solo fourth at the Sony Open and continued to play well, just missing out on his first win at the Barbasol Championship when he lost in a playoff to Aaron Baddeley on the fourth extra hole. However, he wouldn’t have to wait much longer to find the winner’s circle as just four starts later, he won the Wyndham Championship by five strokes, a tournament that saw him shoot a 60 in the second round. Following the victory, Kim found himself in the top 100 in the world for the first time at No. 62 and moved up seven more spots with a T-10 finish at the TOUR Championship.

Up until THE PLAYERS, he hadn’t had the greatest 2017, missing the cut or withdrawing in eight of 13 events but he’s obviously proven that he has the game and the mental toughness to compete with the best players in the world. And at just 21 years of age and a five-year exemption with this victory, Si Woo Kim may just be getting started.

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