LAS VEGAS — Tom Kim still didn’t have a PGA Tour ranking two months ago. He is now the top ranked Asian player in the world and is a two-time winner with Tiger Woods in the same position.
Even for Kim, she feels that life moves at lightning speed.
Victory in North Carolina. FedEx Cup Playoffs. Presidents Cup. A victory in Las Vegas.
“It was crazy,” Kim said. “I definitely don’t feel like I’m slowing down, that’s for sure. I just have to keep going, and I’m enjoying the ride. So hopefully, there will be many more to come.”
Patrick Cantley’s victory at the Shriners Children’s Open on Sunday was shocking in the final stretch, as one bad swing turned into a major upset.
Kim and Cantley tied for the lead when Cantley hooked his 3-wood into a desert bush in the canyon, tried to chip it to the fairway, took a penalty drop and made a 35-footer after going into the water. Triple bogey.
That paved the way for Kim to cap off a bogey-free week at TPC Summerlin with an easy 5-under 67 and a three-shot victory.
“Obviously the last hole soured the whole week,” said Cantley, who could have moved to No. 2 in the world with a win.
Kim became the first player since Tiger Woods in 1996 to win twice on the PGA Tour before turning 21. The 20-year-old South Korean earned a tour card by winning the Wyndham Championship in August and has been on the rise ever since.
“I’m enjoying playing on the PGA Tour. It’s great,” Kim said.
But he needed some help from Cantley at the end of a compelling back-and-forth on the back nine at TPC Summerlin.
Going to the 18th, they were arrested. Canteli played first and holed a 3-wood left of the fairway into a desert bush.
Kim belted his driver into the fairway, and by the time he finally played his second shot to the green, Cantlay was four under the putt.
Cantley tried to get out of the bushes to no avail. He took a penalty kick. Then he stepped out of the desert sand and hit the pond. Cantley’s triple bogey tied for second place with Matthew Nesmith (66) for a 69.
“I thought my only chance was to get on the fairway,” Cantley said of his decision to play out of the woods. “I played well — one bad swing at the end.” Obviously, I wanted to close the deal today, but sometimes that’s golf.”
Kim became the first player since JT Poston to win a PGA Tour event without making a bogey at the 2019 Wyndham Championship. No one can afford to drop shots the way the back nine is going.
Cantley birdied the 11th and 12th to tie Kim for the lead. Kim responded with birdies on the next two holes to return with a two-shot lead. Cantley had 30-foot eagle chances on the next two holes, driving the par-4 14th green with a 3-wood and reaching two on the par-5 15th, but Kim had to settle for pars.
Cantelli’s 35-footer for triple bogey cost $160,000, but that was little consolation. His first PGA Tour win was his third upset in Las Vegas. In the year In 2019, he lost a match against Kevin Na and the following year he shared a 54-hole lead until the last round of eighth.
That left Kim with a somewhat muted celebration.
“I played hard this week — no bogeys for 72 holes,” Kim said. “I was very lucky on the 18th, I’m not going to lie. Patrick played very well, and I was lucky to win.”
Woods won seven tournaments after turning pro at Las Vegas and then Disney when he was 20. Kim is now the second-youngest player to win two PGA Tour events under the age of 21, a month after Ralph Guldahl won the 1932 Arizona Open for his second victory.
It’s been years since Kim honed his golf skills before becoming a professional in Australia and the Philippines. He started this year by winning the Singapore International and finishing second on the Asian Tour at the Singapore Open.
After winning the Wyndham Championship, he made his senior debut by going 2-3-0 for the international team and hitting a 10-foot birdie putt with a four-putt 1-under par. Xander Schauffele.
He then went on to win the Zozo Championship in Japan and became the highest ranked Asian player ahead of Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama.