Posted April. 06, 2010 03:25,
Anthony Kim has won the PGA Shell Houston Open at Redstone Golf Club in Humble, Texas.
The 25-year-old Korean American shot a two under-70 in the final round to finish 12 under-276 to tie Vaughn Taylor of the U.S. Kim then won the tournament on the first playoff hole.
The title is Kims third on the PGA Tour and his first since clinching the AT&T Championship in 2008. He also earned 1.04 million U.S. dollars in prize money.
○ Up and down on final hole
Kim appeared poised to claim an easy win, leading by two strokes on the 18th hole. He bogeyed a tee shot and the second in succession by dropping the ball in the bunker, however.
Taylor sank a dramatic 5.5-meter birdie on the 18th to tie for the lead. In the first playoff hole, Kim used his third wood to hit a tee shot, which flew 280 yards and fell into the fairway.
Kim hit his second shot in the fairway on this hole for the first time in the final round. He hit his approach 8.5 meters away from the hole for a two-putt par.
Tyler shot his tee and second shot into the bunker, and his 5.4-meter par putt was about 30 centimeters off the cup.
○ Pain leads to maturity
At age 23 in 2008, Kim won two titles that season to become the first to do so on the PGA Tour before age 25 since Tiger Woods. Famous for his sense of self-confidence, Kim had nothing to be afraid of.
But he had no wins last year due to shoulder and finger injuries and a tough breakup with his girlfriend. He had just three top-10 finishes and failed to make the cut in five events.
Amid his hardship, he went back to the basics and focused on training after being nicknamed an idle golf sensation. He installed a putting green in the backyard of his home and spent hours practicing his putting.
Kim sent his ball 23 times into the fairway at the Shell Houston Open, or 41 percent of his shots.
He found his tee shots in bushes and bunkers many times. One ball hit the breast of a tournament staff member on the 17th hole. He might have given up due to his temper in the past, but stayed cool this time.
Kim overcame his crises through a precise short game and putting.
He won the title with the fourth-lowest ratio of balls found in the fairway. Two years ago, I would have dumped my caddie bag into the water. Then, I would have no clubs to play with in the playoff, he said beaming.
○ Competition heats up among contenders
Kims revival has intensified the mood for the Masters, the first major of the season to open Thursday. He will face Tiger Woods, who will return to golf after a five-month hiatus.
Ernie Els, 41, has returned to the game and seeks to add a green jacket in addition to the two straight titles he has won this season.
Phil Mickelson had the oncologist who treated his wife and mother for breast cancer to serve as his caddie on the last three holes. He had six straight birdies on the back nine to rank 35th (two under), completing his warm-up for the big tournament.