Korea’s Tom Kim enjoyed a top-5 finish in the US$15 million Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii on Sunday as Jon Rahm romped to a stunning come-from-behind victory over Collin Morikawa.
Kim, 20, closed with a 5-under 68 for a 22-under 270 total in his debut appearance at the Plantation Course at Kapalua in Maui to finish five strokes behind playing partner Rahm. The Spaniard overcame an overnight seven shot deficit with a stunning 63 to claim his eighth PGA TOUR victory on 27-under.
Morikawa, who was chasing a first title since his 2021 Open Championship victory, faded to a 72 which included three consecutive birdies from the 14th hole as he finished two behind Rahm. Tom Hoge and Max Homa shared third place.
“Top-5, great start to the year,” said Kim, who will head to the Sony Open in Hawaii for his next start. “Obviously had some rusts going on this week but still felt I played pretty solid. It was probably just putting. That’s normally the strength of my game where I make my shots. I just missed a lot of putts. It was not like I was hitting bad putts but I didn’t see the lines and the speed, and they didn’t go in. The game is feeling good and it’s definitely trending.”
“I’m excited (about next week). I’ve heard it’s going to be a good golf course for me so hopefully get some good prep. Top-5 here and hopefully have a better week next week.”
Another Korean, K.H. Lee, carded a 67 to finish tied seventh for his first top-10 in the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which is the first of 17 designated tournaments this year with elevated purses and participation commitments from the world’s top-players.
Sungjae Im of Korea (70) came in tied 13th while Hideki Matsuyama of Japan (72) settled for tied 22nd place ahead of his defence of the Sony Open in Hawaii.
Lee, a two-time winner on TOUR, was delighted with his first top-10 of 2023. “I’m very happy. I’ve seen a lot of good things but also things that need to be improved. I will prepare myself better for the next one. The driver was spot on, as well as my iron play. I’m looking forward to next week’s Sony Open,” said the 31-year-old Lee.
Rahm was ecstatic with his thrilling victory after finishing runner-up here last season. He equalled the largest come-from-behind win at the Sentry Tournament of Champions (Gary Player/1978).
“It’s special. This is actually the first win with the whole family here. Both kids as well. So it’s going to be one to enjoy,” said the 28-year-old.
“You never want to see somebody have a bad day down the stretch. But I feel like with that lead he (Morikawa) had, I needed to play really good and he needed to make a couple mistakes. Last year, I feel like I played an amazing tournament. I could have won it. To come back this year and shoot a very low score again, I mean, I’m what, 60-under par in these last two tournaments? It would have been tough to shoot that low twice and not win it. So I’m glad I had the chance and I’m glad I did it.”
Morikawa was bogey-free all week until his first dropped shot on the 14th hole during the final round where he thinned a recovery shot from the fairway bunker. He bogeyed his next two holes as well which ultimately ended his title hopes.
“It sucks. You work so hard and you give yourself these opportunities and just bad timing on bad shots and kind of added up really quickly. Don’t know what I’m going to learn from this week, but it just didn’t seem like it was that far off. It really wasn’t,” said the five-time TOUR winner.
“I mean 1-under on this course is not a good score. It really isn’t. I was 3-under through whatever, six holes. 3-putted 5 as well. He still shot 63. But I still, you know, I still had it within reach. If I don’t make those bogeys and I make par, we’re right there.”
Final-Round Notes – Sunday, January 8, 2023
Weather: Mostly sunny. High of 79. Wind NE 10-15 mph.
Jon Rahm 64-71-67-63—265 (-27)
Collin Morikawa 64-66-65-72—267 (-25)
Tom Hoge 66-71-68-64—269 (-23)
Max Homa 70-70-63-66—269 (-23)