Filepic Tom Kim. Credit Getty Images.jpg

Korea’s Tom Kim secured a memorable first career top-10 in a major championship following a tied eighth finish at the U.S. Open as a tearful Wyndham Clark claimed a nerveless victory by holding off Rory McIlroy and Scottie Scheffler on Sunday.

Kim, who will turn 21 on Wednesday, signed for a 1-under 69 in the final round at Los Angeles Country Club to break par for the third successive day after opening his campaign with a 73. It was only the second top-10 finish by a Korean golfer at the U.S. Open following Y.E. Yang’s tied third in 2011.

“I had a tough first day, and if you would have told me after 18 holes in the first round, I would have taken a top 10,” said Kim, who finished six shots back of Clark.

Already a two-time winner on the PGA TOUR, Kim’s progress in the majors has been trending upwards in recent times. He finished 23rd in his U.S. Open debut last year, T47 at The Open Championship last July and came in tied 16th in his first Masters Tournament appearance in April.

He made five birdies on the card on another tough scoring day on Sunday, including one on the closing hole to bounce back from a costly double bogey on 17. “We’re getting better. That’s on the positive side,” said Kim.

“Yeah, I think despite everything, I think it was just a great bounce-back after doubling 17. I felt like I was hitting it great all day, just one bad shot … definitely penalizes just this whole U.S. Open. One mistake brings out a big score.”

Kim’s strong week included a record-equalling outward 29 during Saturday’s third round of 66 which propelled him onto the leaderboard. It provided yet another glimpse of his wonderful talent which was also on full display at the Presidents Cup last year where he produced big moments for the International Team.

“It was definitely I think one of the best golf rounds I’ve had these two days,” reflected Kim of his third round where he was 7-under through 10 holes before dropping three bogeys in his last six holes.

“U.S. Opens are the toughest weeks we have all year, and to shoot under par for three days in a row, it definitely shows me a lot of confidence in myself. Definitely pleased with it.”

Co-overnight leader Clark, 29, ground out an even-par 70, which included a two-putt par from nearly 60 feet on the last green, to secure his first major triumph with a one-stroke win on 10-under 270, with McIlroy finishing runner-up after a 70 as well. World No. 1 Scheffler (70) settled for third place on 8-under.

It was Clark’s second PGA TOUR triumph after breaking through at the Wells Fargo Championship just last month. Rickie Fowler, the co-overnight leader with Clark, shot a 74 to finish tied fourth alongside Australia’s Cameron Smith (67).

Clark, who lost his mother to cancer when he was still in college, said: “I just felt like my mom was watching over me today … she can’t be here. I miss you, mom. I just feel like I’ve worked so hard and dreamed of this moment for so long. There’s been so many times I’ve visualised being here in front of you guys to win this championship.  I just felt like it was my time.”

At one stage, he held a three-shot lead over McIlroy, who was chasing his fifth major victory, after a pivotal birdie on 14 but dropped bogeys over the next two holes to ensure a tense finish. Clark safely two putted from long range on the last hole to eventually hoist the U.S. Open trophy and earned US$$3.6 million and 600 FedExCup points.

“The shot on 14 was the shot of the week for me, to make birdie there, and I grinded all the way in,” said Clark.

Tommy Fleetwood of England carded a tournament record-equalling 63 for a share of sixth place on 275 alongside Australia’s Min Woo Lee (67).  Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama closed with a 75 for T32 while Korea’s Si Woo Kim finished T39 after a 74.


Final-Round Notes – Sunday, June 18, 2023

Weather: Partly cloudy. High of 72. Wind SW 5-10 mph.

Final-Round Leaderboard

Wyndham Clark                  64-67-69-70—270 (-10)

Rory McIlroy                       65-67-69-70—271 (-9)

Scottie Scheffler                 67-68-68-70—273 (-7)

Cameron Smith                  69-67-71-67—274 (-6)

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