Si Woo Kim outfought Hayden Buckley to win the Sony Open in Hawaii, producing two magnificent shots in the final two holes to seal a one-shot victory over the American.
Kim began the round three shots behind Buckley, but he immediately cut the deficit with three birdies in his opening three holes to reach 15-under. Buckley made just one birdie on the front nine on Sunday at Waialae Country Club.
Despite a bogey on the 11th hole, Buckley bounced back with a birdie on 12 and a clutch birdie putt on 14 to take a one-shot lead with four holes left. The 26-year-old was on the brink of his first win on Tour.
Buckley reached 17-under with a birdie on 16, Kim was one shot back and missed the green with his tee shot on the par-3 17th hole. The South Korean produced the heroics we saw at the Presidents Cup by chipping in from 28 feet away.
Kim found the fairway bunker on the par-5 18th hole with the scores level on 17-under. From 236 yards, Kim's 5-iron shot scampered on to the green and settled 40 feet away. A solid two-putt confirmed a 64 and a final score of 18-under.
The ball was now in Buckley's court and needed a 72nd-hole birdie. He couldn't find the bottom of the cup from 12 feet and Kim had won for the first time since the American Express in 2021.
"I won a couple of years ago in Palm Springs, so really want to win when I play every week, but I know it's high expectations, like a little bit of holding me up, but I keep trying to be positive, and yeah, now finally I won the tournament," Kim said after winning his fourth PGA Tour title.
"Yeah, 17, kind of like tough pin, and then it's hard to stop the green because of the helping wind. I was over the green kind of like into the grain, like a tough lie.
"But I knew he made a putt; I hear the noise. I have to hit it aggressively, and I made it. Next one was comfortable, felt more comfortable. The bunker, I was in there yesterday, too. It feels more comfortable because I've been there yesterday. I think that helps, too, on the green."
"I feel like it definitely played tough out there, so I feel like my ball-striking was right where I wanted it," Buckley said.
"A little shaky earlier. I didn't hit it exactly where I wanted to early on, but again, the front nine is so difficult that I knew if I could just grind out a few pars and find my way to the back nine, I'd have a great chance.
"Overall I was impressed by what I did, and I think I'll remember this day and it'll just make me better."
Chris Kirk's winless run on Tour continues to approach the 3000-day mark as he finished in outright third. Andrew Putnam, Ben Taylor and David Lipsky finished in a tie for fourth on 14-under.
Sony Open - Final leaderboard
-18 S. W Kim
-17 H Buckley
-15 C Kirk
-14 A Putnam, B Taylor, D Lipsky
-13 A Baddeley, M Kuchar, M McNealy, N Lashley, N Taylor