HONOLULU (AP) — Si Woo Kim brought a sleepy Sony Open to life Sunday with a birdie-birdie finish that gave him a 6-under 64 and a one-shot victory over Hayden Buckley.
Buckley had a two-shot lead at the start of the day and was among nine players from the leading 16 going into the final round who had never won.
Kim, who started the day three shots behind, finally caught up late in the round. But then Buckley holed a 15-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole to regain the lead, and Kim was in the group ahead of him in the rough just over the green at the par-3 17th.
Kim heard the cheer from Buckley’s birdie, and then produced a moment of his own. He chipped in from just under 30 feet to tie Buckley again.
“Right before that, I heard the noise,” Kim said. “It was kind of a tough lie. I had to hit it aggressive — nothing to lose. I hit it aggressive, it goes in. It was exciting.”
On the par-5 closing hole, Kim’s shot from 236 yards in a fairway bunker tumbled across the dry, fast turf of Waialae Country Club and onto the green. He took two putts from 40 feet for birdie, and then had to wait.
Buckley’s approach from the right collar came out flat and to the right, leaving a tough pitch up the slope to a pin in the back right. It rolled out some 12 feet, and the birdie putt to force a playoff narrowly missed.
Kim won for the fourth time on the PGA Tour, his first since The American Express in the California desert two years ago. He finished at 18-under 262 after a 64-64 weekend.
Buckley had to settle for a 68. He made nine straight pars after opening with a birdie, and then had a six-shot stretch on the back nine of one par, two bogeys and three birdies. His two bogeys came on putts of 5 feet and just inside 4 feet, and he failed to birdie the two par 5s at Waialae.
Chris Kirk had a 68 and finished alone in third.
It was the second straight week in Hawaii that someone rallied from at least three shots behind to win, though it wasn’t nearly as stunning as Jon Rahm coming from six back with nine holes to play at Kapalua against Collin Morikawa.
“It always can happen fast, like last week,” Kim said. “I tried my best every shot. It was a little shaky the last four holes.”
He missed the green on the 17th, and he missed the fairway on the 18th, two places that make birdies hard to find. Kim managed and walked away with another win.