The 21-year-old was a master around the greens as he carded a bogey-free three-under-par 69 to prevail at 10 under in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
Pete Dye and his wife, Alice, the designers of the diabolical Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, watched with delight from Delray Beach, Fla., as the latest Players Championship drama climaxed Sunday with 21-year-old Si Woo Kim the last man staggering - standing - as the victor. Not only did Ian Poulter, Louis Oosthuizen, Lucas Glover or third round co-leaders Kyle Stanley and J.B. Holmes never catch Kim, all of them except Poulter struggled to stay within reasonable striking distance. He got control of the golf tournament on the front nine with three birdies, and then controlled the whole back nine like an experienced pro.
Stanley was nine shots lower than his playing partner, but a 75 still dropped him into a tie for fourth at 6-under with Rafael Cabrera Bello - who had one of the most sensational finishes in Players history when he made the first double-eagle at the par-5 16th hole, and added a birdie at No. 17.
Both had the edge on Kim in experience, especially in dealing with intense situations - Oosthuizen's an Open champ, Poulter's a Ryder Cup star.
It's true that Kim hasn't had a great season (he had just one top 10 coming into this week to go with seven missed cuts and four WDs), but he's clearly shown signs of being a stud as evidenced by those multiple wins before turning 22.
The main reason: Golf's premier men's players scattered after the annual gathering at Augusta (Ga.) National in early April for the season's first major. The person he is trying to beat is playing a par-5 behind him, and he's got two shots to make up, and he plays to the middle of the green.
"This is why we don't laud (Poulter's shot)". PHOTO: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images. This win gets him a five-year exemption on the tour and a three-year exemption to the Masters.
Kim, who doesn't celebrate his 22nd birthday until June 28, said: "I didn't expect that I could be the champion of this tournament at this young age".
Oosthuizen, Stanley share lead at Players Championship
The last time Oosthuizen missed a cut on the PGA Tour was the 2016 Open Championship, a run of 15 straight made cuts. The leaderboard has 15 players tied for 10th or higher, and 20 are within six shots of Oosthuizen and Stanley.
"I really wish ( I could avoid it) but I have to go to the military service and I've already decided I'm going to go, too, so I'm ready".
Kim said he wasn't nervous because of his victory last year in the Wyndham Championship, which gave him a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour. - Ian Poulter wasn't supposed to be here. But a points shift earned Poulter his card, and he took advantage of his opportunity this week.
"I saw it kick off the bank of the bunker and I was a bit anxious at the beginning because I kind of felt that it shot a little too fast", Cabrera Bello said. "It's been a tough few months, to be honest with you".
"When I look back and I reflect on this week, it's been a big week".
"From being in a position a couple of weeks ago where I wasn't here to finish tied second, it's a good week", Poulter told Sky Sports after his best finish since November 2014. That was a really good lesson in how to win a golf tournament and he's a deserved victor. "The putter is not quite doing what I would like". Could Jason Day repeat as victor? PHOTO: Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Four golfers (including Scott) tied for sixth place at five under. "But being four behind with four holes to go is probably not ideal". He's now looking forward to the US Open next month.
"And then the moment that I was leading, I was very confident". "You up-and-down when you're in trouble, you just don't give shots away".
World No.3 Jason Day had a Sunday afternoon to forget.