Michael Kim sets 72-hole scoring record at John Deere Classic, becomes 10th first-time winner on tour this year
If you needed more proof that the PGA Tour is as deep as it has ever been, Michael Kim provided it on Sunday at the John Deere Classic, winning in dominant fashion despite having missed five of his last six cuts entering the week.
Kim's rounds of 63, 64, 64 and his final-round 66 gave him the 72-hole tournament scoring record of 27-under 257, one better than three-time John Deere winner Steve Stricker's total of 258 in 2010. The win makes Kim the 10th first-time tour winner this season.
Kim, who not only overcame poor play of late but a grueling week full of weather delays, was understandably exasperated afterwards.
"I've been running on fumes the entire back nine," said Kim. "Just super thankful, thankful to my parents, to my team, my coaches, my friends, my family. It's been a tough first half of the year. To be able to finish out in style like this, it means a lot."
While he's had his moments this season, including three top-25 finishes, it's been more than tough for Kim. He had missed 14 of 22 cuts, made less than $300,000 and had shown nothing to indicate a week like this was coming. He had ranked inside the top 100 in only one major strokes-gained category (putting). At TPC Deere Run he ranked first in the same category, in addition to ranking first in total strokes-gained, putts per green in regulation and scrambling. He made just three bogeys all week, none of them coming in his final round.
"Even the last couple weeks I felt like the game was there, it's getting there, I just felt like I needed just a couple good starts to rounds or a couple good swings," he said. "I felt like it was going to switch, and I just got off to a great start on Thursday and kept it going on Sunday."
With the win, Kim earns the lone spot available this week for the Open Championship at Carnoustie, where he'll be making his first Open start and just his second major championship start. His first played in a major at the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion, where he tied for 17th to finish as low amateur.
Four players tied for second at 19-under 265, including Francesco Molinari, whose fine form of late makes him an intriguing player to watch at Carnoustie. It will be his 11th career start at the Open, where he's finished in the top 10 only once.
Harold Varner III finished in solo sixth thanks to a three-under 68 that got him to 18-under 266. It's his second consecutive finish of sixth or better, which he's never done in his tour career.