The Player’s Championship attracts one of the best fields in the game. It is for this reason that is it is dubbed “The fifth Major.” Whether or not it actually deserves that title is open to interpretation but one thing is for certain, all of the big names battle it out at TPC Sawgrass in the hope to walk away with the title.
So what attracts them all? Well, prestige is important but a good showing at The Players can all but secure your PGA playing rights for the next season. There is also the added factor of the money. Few tournaments offer the prize money that can be collected at The Players. The purse is huge, $10.5 million to be exact. It’s no wonder why they are all there. Winning at Sawgrass means collecting a cheque for a cool $1.8 million and a five PGA tour exemption.
It’s big money and the field reflects that. Last season, it was Jason Day that walked away with the title. This year, well, it went to a relative unknown in terms of household names. However, something tells me that we will be seeing more of Si Woo Kim. The 21 year old South Korean produced a masterclass in keeping your cool under pressure.
Kim was already up contending following his third round 68. Entering the final round, Kim looked composed and ready to challenge for the biggest title of his young career. What better way to ease any jangling worries than to birdie the first hole? That is exactly what Kim did. He would go on to produce two more birdies on the seventh and ninth.
The marker was now firmly set. The chase was now on. Whilst Kim was busy producing a bogey-free round of 69 the chasing pack had him in their sights. Ian Poulter was moments away from losing his PGA Tour card only a few weeks ago. He made the most of his reprieve. If that was a stay of execution then Poulter showed a new lease of life. He would challenge until the 12th. A bogey would end his chances as Kim was making no mistakes. A bogey on the last simply made Kim’s lead extend. However, a 2nd place finish ensured that Poulter would not need to worry about his PGA Tour card for a while.
As Kim was producing a steady round of consistency, the same could not be said for Louis Oosthuizen. Moments of brilliance were equally matched with moments of horror for the South African. A double bogey on the fourth and an eagle on the 11th. It was a grinding performance and enough to finish in a tie for second alongside Poulter.
Neither could catch Kim as he proved that The Players is not all about the big names. It’s also a chance for an underdog to usurp the crown.
Perhaps the greatest endorsement for Kim was what Louis Oosthuizen said following his round. Describing Kim’s calmness he said: “He played like someone that was doing it for five or six years, like it was just another round of golf. … Never once did he look flustered.”
Remember the name, Si Woo Kim. You’ll be hearing a lot more about him.