Si Woo Kim holds off Patrick Cantlay’s charge to win the American Express

Si Woo Kim

Si Woo Kim hits his tee shot on Sunday on the 16th hole at PGA West.

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To the left of the 16th green at the Stadium Course at PGA West is a 19-foot-deep bunker. Put more bluntly, left of 16 is where you don’t want to be. Even more exactly, this week’s PGA Tour champion’s mouth told the story: He gritted his teeth as his second shot sailed to the sand. His ball’s first bounce went toward it. Its second bounce did not, redirecting in a more favorable direction. The champion would birdie the 16th to tie for the lead, and the 17th to take it. When Si Woo Kim parred the 18th, his teeth came out again. A smile.

To put it more bluntly, Kim made it to exactly where he wanted to be. He made it back into the winner’s circle by capturing the American Express tournament on Sunday by a stroke over Patrick Cantlay for his third victory on the PGA Tour. Here are three things you need to know after Sunday’s final round in La Quinta, Calif.   

Si Woo Kim holds off Patrick Cantlay 

Kim won the tournament. Cantlay won the round. 

Starting the day four shots behind Kim, Tony Finau and Max Homa, Cantlay birdied seven of his first 11 holes to pull into the lead as the leaders made the turn. From there, it was a birdie back-and-forth. Kim birdied 10 to take the lead at 20 under. Cantlay birdied 15 to match. Kim birdied 11. Cantlay 16. Cantlay birdied 18 to move to 22 under. 

On Friday, Cantlay had made the four-under cut on the number. On the weekend, he played his two rounds at 18-under, including a Stadium Course-record 11-under 61 on Sunday.

“Yeah, I played really well,” Cantlay said. “Obviously I played really well on the weekend. I think I was 18 under on the weekend, and all I can ask, and he played really well. And I didn’t think it would quite get to 22-, 23-under par today, but it did.”

On the par-3 17th, needing a birdie to take back the lead, Kim hit his tee shot within 18 feet, then rolled in the birdie, punctuating it with an emphatic fist pump. On 18, Kim his tee shot down the middle, hit his approach within 19 feet and two-putted for an eight-under 64, the 23-under total and the win. 

“I knew that Cantlay played really well,” Kim said. “So I knew I have a lot of chances on the back nine for birdies, so I tried to keep patient and I believed in myself and I got the chance on 16 and 17 and that’s when I could make it and I’m happy with that.”

Tony Finau finishes fourth 

Cameron Davis finished third, three strokes back, after a 64. Finau, seeking his first victory since the 2016 Puerto Rico Open, and second overall, finished fourth, four shots back, after a 68. It is Finau’s 35th top 10 since that win. 

“Usually when I walk off the 72nd hole, I have a pretty good sense of how long it’s going to sting,” Finau said. “I’m pretty encouraged right now. I’ve been working on some things in my golf swing, and I was able to hit a lot of good shots this week, and so I know I’m heading in the right direction.”

Abraham Ancer, Michael Thompson and Doug Ghim tied for fifth, eight shots back.

Rickie Fowler ties for 21st

Among other players, Francesco Molinari tied for eighth, Sungjae Im tied for 12th, Rickie Fowler tied for 21st, and Matthew Wolff tied for 40th.

Homa tied for 21st after a 76.

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Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor