Final analysis of THE PLAYERS Championship

May 14, 2017; Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, USA; Si Woo Kim hoist the trophy after winning The Players Championship golf tournament at TPC Sawgrass - Stadium Course. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports
May 14, 2017; Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, USA; Si Woo Kim hoist the trophy after winning The Players Championship golf tournament at TPC Sawgrass - Stadium Course. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports /

THE PLAYERS Championship tested the best golfers in the world this past week and Si Woo Kim passed with flying colors. 

THE PLAYERS Championship delivered once again this past week as the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass tested arguably the strongest field on the PGA Tour all season. And while the best players in the world struggled, a 21-year-old stayed within himself and walked away with easily the biggest win of his young career.

Si Woo Kim, who will turn 22 on June 28, is now the youngest-ever winner of THE PLAYERS Championship and the irony there is that despite competing against a bevy of seasoned veterans on Sunday, his bogey-free 69 in the final round was the quintessential example of how a grown man goes out and wins himself a big tournament on the final day. What’s even more ironic is that to some degree, the players thought to have a reasonable chance to win on Sunday at all played like kids and the 21-year-old played like the seasoned vet.

TPC Sawgrass was brutal to the players all week. I mean, seriously, there were more nines, eight and sevens on scorecards than what you see at the Miss America pageant. That’s not to mention all the sixes that apparently were a required number on just about everyone’s card. Masters Champion Sergio Garcia made three of them himself on Sunday en route to a very uninspiring 78. Another major championship winner, former Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen, made two of his own and then there was 54-hole co-leader J.B. Holmes, who made two sixes, an eight on the par-3 17th and went from tied for the lead to start the day to a T-41 finish with his final-round 84. TPC Sawgrass had already dispersed of the rest of the field earlier in the week. Well, almost the rest of the field.

With one exception, Si Woo Kim didn’t have a lot of heat put on him Sunday by any of the other contenders. A month ago, when Ian Poulter missed the cut at the Valero Texas Open, the Englishman thought he had lost his TOUR card but thanks to a recalculation of how the points are counted, Poulter remained exempt and therefore eligible for THE PLAYERS Championship, where he was pretty solid until the last few holes of the tournament. He still managed a bogey on the par-4 18th with an incredible recovery to shoot 71. Poulter and Oosthuizen tied for second at 7-under but neither really threatened.

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Tee to green, Kim was at times like watching a train wreck that never happened. The whole world of gambling golf fans might be broke after Sunday, betting double or nothing against Kim getting the ball up and down time and time again after short-siding himself numerous times on a course specifically designed against missing in the wrong places. Kim’s short game and his complete refusal to be rattled on Sunday was completely opposite of what a 21-year-old in contention at THE PLAYERS Championship is supposed to showcase.

Kim has been a professional now for a few years and has one career victory to his credit. His first career win came at the Wyndham Championship last August but that didn’t exactly make him a pre-tournament favorite going into THE PLAYERS Championship. Kim was actually near the bottom of every statistical category on Tour as the week began and has been hampered by a bad back all season but that only makes his huge win that much more improbable. If his back holds up, expect to watch him contend for a long time.

Kim played great and certainly deserved to win. As for the newly renovated TPC Sawgrass, it’s hard to put a grade on it just yet. It sure seemed to make some grown men act like kids and some of the scores showed. All the big events seem better when the big names are in contention and that simply never really materialized at THE PLAYERS this year.  Si Woo Kim could care less about that. He played tough, mature golf, didn’t record a pageant score and is now forever a winner of one of golf’s biggest events.

Next: Power Rankings for the AT&T Byron Nelson

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