Former Oklahoma All-American becomes the youngest winner on tour in six years.
May 4, 2008
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Knee surgery prevented Tiger Woods from attempting to defend his Wachovia Championship title. Anthony Kim didn't disappoint fans at Quail Hollow Club looking for Tiger-like brilliance.
In a near flawless performance Sunday, the 22-year-old Kim became the youngest winner on the PGA TOUR in six years. Following monster drives with flagstick-hitting approach shots and steady putting, Kim shot a 3-under 69 to cruise to five-shot win over Ben Curtis.
The former NCAA freshman of the year at Oklahoma won't turn 23 until next month. But he dominated a star-studded field by finishing with a 16-under 272 total, three shots better than the previous tournament record held by Woods.
Kim earned $1,134,000 and became the youngest winner since Sergio Garcia won his third PGA TOUR title in the 2002 Mercedes Championship.
Kim brought memories of Garcia, but for a different reason, when he strolled to the first tee Sunday with a four-shot lead and noPGA TOUR wins. Garcia blew a six-shot lead at Quail Hollow in 2005 and lost in a playoff to Vijay Singh.
Kim birdied the first and fifth holes to pull away from playing partner Heath Slocum, who shot a 73 and finished at 8 under.
Kim made 25- and 20-foot putts for birdies on the seventh and eighth holes to reach 17 under for a seven-shot lead as his giant belt buckle reading "AK" sparked in the bright sunshine.
Kim's first miscue was on the par-4 ninth, when his drive landed in a fairway bunker, forcing him to lay up. He then hit the flagstick with his third shot and saved par.
Kim's bogey on No. 13 was erased with birdies on the next two holes. He finished bogey-bogey-par, pumping his fist as his last putt dropped, as he lapped a field that included 18 of the world's top 25 golfers,
Curtis' 65 was the best round of the day and the best final round in the tournament's six years. The 36-hole leader, Jason Bohn, shot a 71 to finish third at 10 under.
None of the big names lurking near the top of the leaderboard Sunday made a charge.
Jim Furyk (7 under) and Phil Mickelson (5 under) shot 72s. Singh was out of it before he hit two tee shots in the water on No. 17 before chipping in for triple bogey. His 74 left him at 4 under.
Robert Allenby's 66 put him at 9 under and alone in fourth place. But there was no match for Kim, who became the eighth 20-something golfer to win this year.
After leaving Oklahoma following his junior year, Kim tied for second in his PGA TOUR debut at the 2006 Texas Open. He earned his tour card that winter and was the youngest rookie in 2007 when he had four top-10s finishes.
But Kim didn't come close to winning and struggled with his temper and his decision-making.
After missing three cuts earlier this year, the confident Kim started to practice more, hired veteran caddie Eric Larsen, and decided he'd no longer take unnecessary gambles on the course.
He played in the final group at the Verizon Heritage two weeks ago, but never threatened for the win. Things changed at Quail Hollow, where Kim finished tied for seventh behind Woods last year.
Kim is the fifth first-time winner in 2008, joining Brian Gay, Greg Kraft, Andres Romero and Johnson Wagner.