It took Tom Kim until the final regular season event of the 2021-22 season to nab his first PGA Tour win.
He wasted no time backing up that victory in his first start of the 2022-23 season.
Coming into the final round of the Shriners Children’s Open tied with a red-hot Patrick Cantlay for the lead, Kim fired a final-round-66 to finish at 24 under for the week and claim the title. The only thing Kim failed to do all week: make a bogey.
The win makes him the second youngest two-time PGA Tour winner since Ralph Guldahl in 1932 and the youngest international two-time winner since 1900, according to stat guru Justin Ray. The last player to win twice before their 21st birthday was Tiger Woods.
“I’ve worked really hard, and my team has worked really hard to this point, and I’m just really grateful and I’m fortunate to have an opportunity like this,” Kim said after the win. “I’m having fun playing on the PGA Tour. It’s awesome.”
Cantlay, a former Shriners winner, and Kim were tied heading into the 72nd hole, but Cantlay pulled his tee shot into the brush left of the fairway. His attempt at a punch-out stayed in the native area leading to Cantlay taking an unplayable.
“I figured the only chance I had to stay in the tournament was to try to get it back in the fairway,” Cantlay said. “Obviously, I couldn’t get it back in the fairway.
“I thought if I could get it back in the fairway, I’d have a chance, and I figured it was worth the risk because I didn’t think I’d have too much of a chance of getting it up-and-down from the brush there.”
After discussing his options for a second with caddie Matt Minister, and with a win likely out of reach, Cantlay tried to play for the green with his fourth shot, still in the native area. The approach from 163 hit a bush in front of him and found the water short of the green.
He made a bomb from nearly 36 feet for a triple-bogey 7 and finished tied for third with Matthew NeSmith at 21 under after a 69.
“I got very lucky on the 18th,” Kim said. “I’m not going to lie, Patrick played awesome, and it was an honor to battle with him.”
Kim has been on fire since bursting onto the scene with a third-place finish at the Scottish Open in July. A few events later, he secured his PGA Tour membership status with a dramatic debut win at the Wyndham Championship, firing a 61 to come from behind in the final round.
His stardom only grew at the Presidents Cup where despite going 2-3 for the week, he stole the headlines with his electric play and exuberant celebrations.
Kim was much more stoic this week in Vegas, especially in the final round, paired with Cantlay who has been on top of his own game lately, including a win at the BMW Championship. The man known as Patty Ice flirted with a 59 Saturday at TPC Summerlin and took the outright lead early Sunday, but Kim raced out ahead with two sets of back-to-back birdies at 8 and 9, and 13 and 14.
Cantlay evened things again when Kim was unable to take advantage of the drivable par-4 15th and the reachable par-5 16th before Cantlay’s disaster on the 72nd hole.
Kim hugged new caddie Joe Skovron after holing out on the 18th hole. In their first regular PGA Tour event working together, the pair seemed to have a strong chemistry given that they only began working together at last month’s Presidents Cup.
“I think I got to give big credits to Joe,” Kim said. “He really kept me in it. We had a really good game plan coming into the week, and it paid off.”
Kim was also greeted on the 18th green by fellow International team members Sungjae Im and K.H. Lee and fellow South Korean S.H. Kim.
“For them to just— with the busy schedules that everyone has, for them to stay there for me, I’m really grateful for that,” Kim said.