GREENSBORO (NORTH CAROLINA) (REUTERS) - Kim Joo-hyung, 20, posted a nine-under 61 on Sunday (Aug 7) to run away with the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, becoming one of the youngest winners in PGA Tour history.
The South Korean played the front nine in 27 strokes, tying the second-lowest nine-hole score in tour history. At 20-under 260 for the week, he beat countryman Im Sung-jae (68) and American John Huh (67) by five shots at the regular-season finale at Sedgefield Country Club.
Ben Griffin was fourth at 14 under after his second straight round of 64.
The PGA Tour awarded Kim a special temporary membership last month, allowing him to play unlimited tournaments on sponsors' exemptions for the remainder of the season as he chased his tour card. The PGA added him to the FedEx Cup Playoffs (34th place) following Sunday's performance, and he will be a full tour member next season.
"Walking off that 18th green, thinking about ... the behind-the-scenes work, I want to thank my team first," Kim said on the CBS broadcast. "They've supported me so much. My family, my parents, my agents, my coaches. Everyone who's worked beyond their line to help me reach this point."
Since World War II, the only player to win a PGA Tour event at a younger age was Jordan Spieth, who was 19 when he claimed the John Deere Classic title in 2013. But Kim already is an accomplished player; he had nine prior professional wins in Asia and entered the week ranked No. 34 in the world.
What's more, he overcame a quadruple bogey on the first hole of the tournament to surge past the pack.
"After that quad, once I started to laugh it off, I could feel you know what, I'm in a better mental state," he said. "Instead of getting angry and depressed, I stayed in the moment. I can't believe I won with a quadruple bogey on the first hole. Hopefully that doesn't happen again."
Kim birdied Nos. 2-4 before reaching the green in two at the par-five fifth and having less than eight feet to make eagle. He added birdies at Nos. 6, 8 and 9 to pencil in his 27. Three of his birdie putts were longer than 18 feet.
He made his only bogey at the par-four 10th before settling in with a run of pars and two more birdies. Kim's tee shot at the par-three 16th nestled comfortably inside three feet.
Im holed out for eagle from the fifth fairway and added four bogeys and four birdies for his 68. He jumped from 15th in the FedEx Cup points standings to 10th, netting him a US$1 million (S$1.38 million) bonus from the PGA Tour.
"Finishing top 10 in the season on the PGA Tour is an honour and I'm happy with it, but still got three Playoff events remaining and I'm going to focus on playing well," Im said.
Other players on the course over the weekend were aiming to cement their places in the FedEx Cup Playoffs' field of 125. Max McGreevy made seven birdies en route to a final-round 65 that got him to 13 under, in a tie for fifth with Russell Henley (66) and Taylor Moore (67) - pushing him from 126th to start the week to a projected position of 104th.
"I think my goal was just to play good golf," McGreevy said. "I wasn't trying to get a certain amount of points or finish top-30 or something like that. I haven't played good golf in a long time, so I was just trying to play good golf, and I thought it could take care of itself."
Tied for eighth at 11 under were England's Tyrrell Hatton (64), Chesson Hadley (64), Cameron Percy of Australia (66), Anirban Lahiri of India (68) and Brandon Wu (70). Hadley was on the bubble at 121st place entering the week but is projected to move comfortably to 105th.