Si Woo Kim: Who Is The Players Championship Winner?

Si Woo Kim at TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, May 14.
Si Woo Kim at TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, May 14. Kim is the youngest-ever winner of The Players Championship. Peter Casey/USA Today Sports

Amid a slew of golf’s big names, a relative unknown held steady at TPC Sawgrass to win The Players Championship on Sunday.

Si Woo Kim, a 21-year-old South Korean, carded a final-round 69 to finish three shots ahead of Ian Poulter and Louis Oosthuizen.

Kim, the youngest player to graduate from the PGA Tour’s qualifying school, has hardly been a serial winner since joining the tour. Before his triumph Sunday, he had won just once on the PGA Tour and once on the Tour, the PGA’s finishing school.

Kim’s best previous finish this season had been at the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio, where he tied for 22nd. In late January, Kim was 11-over par at the Farmers Insurance Open in La Jolla, California, before withdrawing with back pain. He missed the cut at his next tournament, the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

None of that seemed to bother him Sunday as he reeled off a bogey-free round. Poulter, who later became embroiled in a spat with pundit Brandel Chamblee over the perceived conservatism of his final round, had to escape from trees on the final hole and lost out on any chance of catching Kim.

However, he may not have much time to revel in the victory among his fellow professionals. South Korea requires military service for all able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 35, lasting 21 months and Kim has yet to fulfil the obligation.

"I really wish we could have that benefit [exemption from military service],” Kim said in quotes reported by RTE following his victory.

"However, regardless of me winning this tournament I really have to go to the military service, and I've already decided I'm going to go so I'm ready for that," he said.

Kim is the youngest winner of The Players Championship—younger than previous record-holder Adam Scott, who won it for the first time in 2004. Military service may stall his progression but golf, derided as an old man’s game and declining in popularity, does appear to have a new young star to hang its hat on.