Anthony Kim's emphatic fist pump after holing out on the 18th hole Sunday in the Wachovia Championship said it all.
"I knew my life was changing on the 18th green when I was lining that putt up," Kim told reporters after posting his first PGA Tour. "It was so special and I'll never forget that feeling. It's just all these emotions were starting to run through and I realized what I had done and all the hard work is paying off."
Although a knee injury prevented Tiger Woods from defending his title at Quail Hollow Country Club, Kim put together a performance that was almost Woods-like in terms of dominance. The 22 year old closed with a 3-under-par 69 to shoot 16-under 272 and win by five strokes over Ben Curtis.
"It's been a wonderful week," Kim said. "I have to thank everybody who helped me get to where I am right now, my family, of course, and all the people that have helped me out the last ... 22 years.
"It's been a long ride, but it sure is worth it."
The victory was worth $1.15 million and made Kim the youngest winner on the PGA Tour since 2002. He also earned 4,500 FedEx Cup points, vaulting to fourth in the overall standings.
"I'm a little bit numb right now, but that walk up 18 was the best feeling in my entire life and I'll never forget that feeling," Kim said. "I had chills going up and down my spine. I want to recreate that as many times as possible now, so I'm going to really work hard."
Curtis, the 2003 British Open champion, carded a final-round 65 to charge into the runner-up finish. It marked just the fourth time that Curtis has recorded a final round in the 60s since a final-round 69 in the 2006 Canadian Open.
"I've been playing well this year — just having one bad round that kills me and puts me out of the tournament, but this week [I] put four pretty good rounds together," Curtis told reporters. "I actually feel like I played better than I scored. I got off to a good start today and I just wanted to keep riding that wave and hopefully keep it going next week."
A fast start was the key for Kim. He birdied the par-4 first hole each round of the tournament and played the front nine in 15 under par, while finishing the tournament 1 under on the back nine.
Entering the day with a four-stroke lead, Kim followed his birdie at No. 1 with birdies at Nos. 5, 7 and 8. He sank a 25-footer at No. 7 and a 20-footer at No. 8 to get to 17 under for the tournament and lead by seven shots.
Kim said nerves weren't nearly as big of an issue as he had thought they might be.
"I was actually pretty comfortable," Kim said. "I thought I'd have a couple more butterflies in my stomach on the first tee."
After a bogey at No. 13, Kim made back-to-back birdies on holes 14 and 15. Despite bogeys at Nos. 16 and 17, he held on to set the tournament record by three strokes and became the first Wachovia champion to win by more than two shots.
"Like I said, I'm a little bit numb right now, but this is what I've been dreaming about my whole life and fulfilling this dream is awesome," Kim said. "I'd like to keep going and working hard and see how good I can really be."
Jason Bohn finished third (10-under 278), Robert Allenby ended fourth (9-under 279), while Dudley Hart and Heath Slocum tied for fifth (8-under 280). Jim Furyk was seventh (7-under 281); Rod Pampling, Adam Scott, Fred Couples and Stewart Cink tied for eighth (6-under 282).
Despite besting a field that included 18 of the top 25 players in the world rankings, Kim said he was probably more pleased to finally get his break-through win. He's also now exempt on the PGA Tour until 2010 and earned invitations to several tournaments, including the Masters.
"This is a great field and to come out on top here is more than enough," Kim said. "I don't need all that other stuff, even though it's a perk, but it just feels great to be on top here."
May 5, 2008
Davis Love III, who played the final 57 holes of the Children's Miracle Network Classic without a bogey, finished at 25-under 263 in the season-ending event played at the Walt Disney World Golf Resort in Florida. It has been a long road back for Love, who severely sprained his ankle late last year. After tearing ligaments, he needed surgery, and he's spent much of this year rehabilitating the injury.
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