Brit did everything in his power but was ultimately bested by Kim’s ten under par
IAN POULTER’S bid for a fairytale Players’ Championship triumph was thwarted by a kid who looks like he should still be read bedtime stories.
Poulter, who only got into Sawgrass through the side door after American Brian Gay convinced PGA Tour they messed up the medical exemption rules, did everything he possibly could to make the most of that reprieve.
But fresh-faced Korean Si Woo Kim refused to be intimidated by the screaming, snarling Englishman though, and his closing 69 to finish on ten under par proved two shots too good for Poulter.
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Still, the famed Ryder Cup streetfighter was back, and second place means he will not have to worry about preserving his playing rights. His cheque for £880,000 took care of that, even though it was £600k less than Kim earned.
Kim, 21, has been regarded as a phenomenon ever since he became the youngest player ever to earn a PGA Tour card at the ultra-tough Qualifying School when eh was just 16.
He put another Englishman – former world No 1 Luke Donald – firmly in his place when he grabbed his breakthrough win at last year’s Wyndham Championship, romping home by five shots
Poulter, 41, has not looked so pumped up since he strung together that incredible five-birdies-in a row spree to spark the Miracle at Medinah in the 2012 Ryder Cup.
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There was a repeat here of the fist pump celebration that became his trademark that day, his eyes bulging and every nerve in his next standing out as he roared his delight.
This time it came after he holed an 18 footer to salvage a par on the ninth, stretching his amazing bogey-free run to 37 holes.
Sadly, the streak ended at 39, as he three-putted the 12th green from 60 feet, giving back the shot he picked up at the long 11th. And there was no way back after that.
Another European Ryder Cup player, Rafa Cabrera-Bello created a slice of history as he became the first man to make an albatross at the par five 16th, where he hit a 337 yard drive and holed out from 180 yards.
That catapulted the Spaniard to five under par. He followed up with a terrific birdie at the 17th – and the frantic finish continued as he made a forty footer to salvage par on the last after hitting his tee shot into the water!
There were no fireworks of that sort from the all-star pairing of world No 2 Rory McIlroy and Jason Day.
World No2 McIlroy has been troubled by rib and back problems all week, and he closed with a disappointing three over par to finish on two over.
It was even more grim for Day. He put two balls in the water in 16 and another on 17 to shoot 80 – the worst round ever by a defending champion.