Si Woo Kim birdied two of the final three holes on Sunday to get past a late-charging Patrick Cantlay and win The American Express by one shot in La Quinta, California.
At one point in the final round Sunday, five golfers were tied for the lead. One of them was Cantlay, who took over as the betting favorite after the withdrawal of Jon Rahm, the second-ranked player in the world.
Cantlay, who started the day at 11-under-par and four shots behind the leaders, fired an opening-nine 30, 6-under on the par-72 PGA West Stadium Course in La Quinta. The 28-year-old out of UCLA had odds of +1400 to win his fourth PGA TOUR event.
He came to the 18th hole tied with Kim at 20-under-par after birdies at the 15th and 16th holes, followed by a par at the island green 17th. Cantlay drained a 37-foot putt to shoot an 11-under 61 and headed to the driving range while the final group finished their last four holes.
A second-round 71 had left Cantlay right on the cut line at 4-under-par, six shots behind the leaders. His third-round 65 put him back in position to make a run at the lead, which he did with his sizzling opening nine holes.
Kim teed off on Thursday at odds of +5000 to win the tournament, which has been contested since 1960. He held the third-round lead at 1-under-par along with Tony Finau and Max Homa.
Finau fell out of contention after bogeys at the 11th and 14th holes, while Homa struggled all day and never was a factor on Sunday.
Kim last won at the 2017 Players Championship and has been struggling with consistency over the last couple of seasons.
Usually, The American Express is played over three courses and is played as a pro-am for the first three days. Because of COVID-19 precautions, only two layouts were in play, and there were no amateurs present. The first two days included play at the Nicklaus Tournament course, another par-72 track.
Kim last won at the 2017 Players Championship and has been struggling with consistency over the last couple of seasons. He tied Cantlay with a nifty up-and-down for birdie on the par-five 16th hole, needing one birdie over the last two holes to avoid a playoff.
His shot to the tough par-three 17th hole found the putting surface, just short of 19 feet from the pin. Kim’s putt found the bottom of the cup, and he walked to the 18th hole just looking for a par on the 432-yard par-4.
His drive safely found the fairway, and he put his second shot safely on the putting surface. Kim two-putted from 18 feet to secure his third PGA TOUR victory.
Kim’s 64 was tied for the second-best score of the day behind Cantlay. Cameron Davis, a 25-year-old from Australia, fired the other 64 and tied for third.
Davis’ previous best finish on TOUR was a tie for sixth at the Sanderson Farms Championship earlier in the 2021 season.
The win lifted Kim to ninth place in the FedEx Cup standings, and Cantlay moved into the second position behind leader Dustin Johnson. The TOUR now heads to Torrey Pines, just up the Pacific coast from San Diego, for the Farmers Insurance Open.