LA QUINTA, Calif. (AP) – Si Woo Kim birdied two of the last three holes to finish a solid, 8 under 64, coldly rallying past late Patrick Cantlay to win the American Express on Sunday for his third victory over the PGA Tour.
A year after Kim retired from the Desert Tournament with a back injury from a terrible first round, he started the final round with a share of the lead as he tried to win. for the first time since the 2017 Players’ Championship.
The 25-year-old South Korean didn’t flinch as Cantlay shot a 61 and moved up from 13th place to the front while breaking the Stadium Course record by two strokes.
Playing six groups behind Cantlay, Kim comfortably birdied in the 16th par 5 to tie. Kim then buried a 19-foot birdie putt on the island’s green on the 17th to take the lead, happily pumping his fist as his perfectly paced putt dropped.
Kim finished her third bogey-less round of the tournament – all on the Pete Dye-designed Stadium Course – with a par two putt on the 18th to finish 23 under 265.
Kim had a much better time than last year when she returned to the long-time Palm Springs area tournament hosted by Bob Hope. A year ago, Kim shot a 15-over 87 in the first lap over easier neighbor Nicklaus Course before retiring.
Australian Cameron Davis shot a 64 to finish in a career-best third at 20 under. Tony Finau had a 68 and finished fourth after starting the final round with a share of the lead in his quest to secure his long-awaited second PGA Tour victory.
Cantlay was in 56th place when the third round began, but the Southern California native’s 65-61 arrival pulled him out of the crowded field and nearly led to his second victory of the 2020-21 season. He also won the Zozo Championship at Thousand Oaks last October when he was relocated from Japan.
Cantlay, 28, birdied 11 in the final round, including six of eight holes of the first nine. Cantlay capped his spectacular lap with a 37-foot bird putt on the 18th, subtly pumping his fist for the few fans clapping from their homes near the green.
Cantlay was born in Long Beach, attended high school in Anaheim, and was the Division I Player of the Year at UCLA prior to his professional career.
In total, Cantlay had 20 birdies in his last two laps, offset by two bogeys on Saturday.
Third-round co-leaders Max Homa and Finau both disappeared, with Homa struggling to five bogeys in a 76, leaving him at 11 cents. Finau signed his third top 10 of the season, but couldn’t keep up with Kim.
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