15 May 2017

Players Championship winner prepares for military duty

1:42 pm on 15 May 2017

After becoming the youngest ever winner of the Players Championship, unheralded South Korean golfer Si Woo Kim isn't worried about the looming compulsory military service in his homeland.

Because he can fill those five years with a litany of starts in golf's biggest tournaments.

The 21-year-old Kim fired a bogey-free final round of three-under-par 69 at TPC Sawgrass to finish at 10-under, claiming a three-shot victory over England's Ian Poulter (71) and South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen (73) at golf's unofficial fifth major championship.

In his homeland of South Korea, males are required to serve 21 months of military service between the ages of 20 and 30, but golfers can avoid it by winning one of golf's four major championships - the dispensation for such duty.

Si Woo Kim

Si Woo Kim Photo: Photosport

Victory at TPC Sawgrass - regarded as golf's unofficial fifth major - won't exempt Kim but it does guarantee him five years on the US PGA Tour, as well as starts at the next three Masters, US Open and British Open.

"I really wish ( I could avoid it) but I have to go to the military service and I've already decided I'm going to go, too, so I'm ready. I haven't decided when, but I have five years of exemption, so we will see," said Kim, whose only other victory on the US PGA Tour came at last year's Wyndham Championship.

Kim became just the second Asian winner of the Players after his idol South Korean K.J. Choi triumphed in 2011.

He also smashed Australian Adam Scott's record as youngest winner, which the Queenslander set in 2004 aged 23 years, 8 months and 12 days.

Kim, who doesn't celebrate his 22nd birthday until June 28, said "I didn't expect that I could be the champion of this tournament at this young age. I'm so honoured to become the youngest champion."

Scott finished as the leading Australian in a tie for sixth at five-under after closing with a solid 70.

Australia's world No.3 Jason Day claimed an unwanted record for the worst-ever final round by a defending champion since the Players moved to TPC Sawgrass in 1982, signing for an 80.

Day, who romped to a four-shot victory in 2016, finished at seven-over for the tournament.

Aaron Baddeley (three-over) and Rod Pampling (four-over) both shot 72.