Published On: Mon, Apr 16th, 2018

Golf: Kodaira triumphs at Hilton Head for first PGA Tour win

(Reuters) – Japan’s Satoshi Kodaira birdied the third extra hole to beat South Korean Kim Si-woo in a playoff at the RBC Heritage in South Carolina on Sunday and earn his first PGA Tour win.

Apr 15, 2018; Hilton Head, SC, USA; Satoshi Kodaira reacts after making the winning putt on the 17th hole during the playoffs of the final round of the RBC Heritage golf tournament at Harbour Town Golf Links. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

After each player parred the 18th hole twice to start the playoff, it was Kodaira who drained a 24-foot birdie putt at the par-three 17th at Harbour Town on Hilton Head Island to secure the biggest win of his career.

Kodaira, who began the day six shots behind overnight leader Ian Poulter, mixed seven birdies with three bogeys in regulation for a five-under 66 that left him at 12 under and set the stage for his first PGA Tour win in only his sixth start.

“This is what I was dreaming about,” Kodaira, who tied for 28th at last week’s U.S. Masters, said through a translator. “I didn’t think it would come this quickly.”

Apr 15, 2018; Hilton Head, SC, USA; Si Woo Kim hits from out of the bunker on the 5th hole during the final round of the RBC Heritage golf tournament at Harbour Town Golf Links. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Kim was cruising along after making three front-nine birdies but struggled with his putter over a dismal closing stretch that included a trio of bogeys over a six-hole stretch, the last coming at the par-three 17th.

Kim, who won his third PGA Tour title last year at The Players Championship, still had a chance to secure the win in regulation but failed to convert a seven-foot putt at the par-four 18th.

Apr 15, 2018; Hilton Head, SC, USA; Satoshi Kodaira reacts after making the winning putt on the 17th hole during the playoffs of the final round of the RBC Heritage golf tournament at Harbour Town Golf Links. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

“I felt like I had a lot of chances to win, especially on the back nine and with none of them falling it kind of set me back and also made me nervous,” Kim said through a translator. “I wish some of those putts would have dropped.”

Luke List (72) could have been in the playoff but missed a 10-foot birdie putt at the last and settled for a share of third with Bryson DeChambeau (66).

DeChambeau, who held the halfway lead but imploded in the third round to sit seven shots back, mixed two bogeys with seven birdies, including one at each of the final four holes.

Englishman Poulter, competing in his sixth PGA Tour event in as many weeks, ran out of gas on the back nine as he carded five bogeys over an eight-hole stretch en route to a four-over 75 that left him three shots back.

World number one Dustin Johnson (67) carded his lowest round of the week but it was too little, too late as he finished seven under and five shots back.

The final round ended much earlier than usual as tee times were pushed ahead and players went off split tees in threes in a bid to avoid afternoon thunderstorms that were expected.

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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