Tom Kim’s quest to repeat and more: Storylines for the Shriners Children’s Open final round

With the final round of the Shriners Children's Open upon us, here are three storylines to watch for to see who comes away victoriously.

Tom Kim won last year's Shriners Children's Open by three strokes, and currently sits tied atop the leaderboard entering Round 4.

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It might be a different year, but it’s the same old story for Tom Kim at the Shriners Children’s Open.

After collecting his second career win during last year’s event from TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas, Kim got red-hot during Round 3 on Saturday, shooting a 62 thanks to nine birdies and one eagle, placing him in a tie for first at 15-under with both Adam Hadwin and Lanto Griffin as Round 4 approaches on Sunday.

Kim’s 62 tied the low round of the day with Callum Tarren, who also carded nine birdies and an eagle — helping him move up to 13-under and just two shots off the lead entering the final round.

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After shooting a 24-under to win last year’s event, Kim’s hoping to channel that same energy to close out a victory this year; but there’s plenty of player nipping at his heels.

With 14 golfers separated by just three shots of the leaders, it’s anyone’s guess who will overcome the nerves and make the necessary run to capture victory at the Shriners Children’s Open. So here are three things to watch for during this year’s final round on Sunday.

Who will join the birdie fest to go lowest?

There was a common theme during post-round press conferences from every player in the field: The Shriners Children’s Open is quickly becoming a birdie fest, with low scores out there for golfers to card.

While the aforementioned Kim and Tarren closed Round 3 with the most birdies of any player (9), there were a slew of others who nearly duplicated the feat.

One of those players is the Canadian Hadwin — who sits for a tie atop the leaderboard heading into the final round — and knows exactly what it’s going to take to try and bring home the victory.

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Said Hadwin when asked about his game plan for Sunday, “make as many birdies as possible. You know, don’t move back, make as many birdies as possible, and if the wind is similar to today, I feel like we’re going to be in for a shootout.”

There are a handful of players who have yet to really join the birdie fest, yet still find themselves entering the final round with a chance at winning — such as co-leader Griffin, who only birdied three holes on his way to a 3-under 68 on Saturday. Can he find the magic touch to go lower on Sunday?

Whoever gets hot and can close out the final round on a heater will likely be your champion — and it’s probably going to take lots of birdies to get there.

How will Callum Tarren channel his Round 3 confidence?

As mentioned, Tarren tied Kim for the lowest round of the day on Saturday (62) — which is no easy feat.

Despite the difficulty of shooting 9-under on a given day, Tarren was unfazed and confident in his own ability, even claiming that he knew he had this type of round in him.

When asked if he thought there was a 62 in him before Round 3 started, Tarren wasn’t bashful in sharing his supreme confidence.

“If I’m being truthfully honest, yes, because I’ve played some great golf these last few weeks,” he said.

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“I feel as though I’m in control of my game at the moment. It’s always nice to shoot 62, but you’ve still got to do it. It’s all good thinking about it, but you’ve actually got to hit the golf shots, make the putts. Just proud of the round today.”

With an apparent birdie fest occurring in front of him for Round 4, Tarren’s newfound “claw” putter grip may be a determining factor of where he finishes at this year’s Shriners Children’s Open.

“I was clawing for a long time and switched to conventional, and after the first round this week, I went back to the claw because I didn’t make anything in Round 1,” he added. “So made the switch [back] to the claw…and today everything just went in.”

Will Tom Kim repeat?

If you’ve made it this far, you’ve noticed Kim’s name a lot throughout the article — and with good reason, as he’s dominated the Shriners Children’s Open the past couple of years.

After shooting that aforementioned 62 during Round 3, only one question remains as the final round approaches: Can he repeat as champion?

Recent history seems to be on his side given the dominant performance at TPC Summerlin last year, as well as his showing thus far this weekend. But Kim knows there’s still lots of golf left to be played, and that he needs to stick to his game plan to try and go back-to-back here in Las Vegas.

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“I feel like you’ve just got to keep your head down, make as many as you can,” he said. “Once you start looking at the leaderboard and you see guys making birdies, you feel like ‘oh, man, I need to start making birdies,’ and you start forcing things and almost go the opposite way.

“That’s exactly what I did last year, and I kept my head down and tried to play my own golf and see what happened. It worked out last year, so tomorrow, I’ll have a game plan, stick to it, and see what happens.”

Should Kim hold off the rest of the field to capture victory, he’ll join Jim Furyk (3) and Martin Laird and Kevin Na (2) as the only repeat winners of the Shriners Children’s Open.

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