Non-member Satoshi Kodaira erased a six-shot deficit with 5-under 66 and then won the 50th RBC Heritage in sudden death.
Beginning the final round six shots back, World No. 46 Satoshi Kodaira twirled a 5-under-par 33-33=66 on Sunday at Harbour Town Golf Links to post the clubhouse lead on 12-under 272 – matched five groups later by Si Woo Kim – and then defeated him with birdie on the third hole of sudden death, the par-3 17th, to claim his first PGA TOUR title in 15 events.
In the playoff, the duo matched par 4s on the first two playoff holes (18-18) before the Tokyo native and resident banged home the winner from 24'6". South Korea’s Kim, who lives in Dallas, missed his birdie try from 20’10” to extend.
Kim, playing out of the final threesome with 54-hole leader Ian Poulter and Luke List, had a chance to win in regulation but whiffed his birdie putt from 6’4” on the 72nd hole for even-par 71. Poulter shot 75 for T7 and List 72 for T3.
Kodaira, making his tournament debut as a 200/1 outright, is the first non-member to win since Danny Willett’s come-from-behind victory at the 2016 Masters (60/1).
With the win, he becomes eligible for – and accepted – full-time TOUR membership and leaps 19 places to a career-high 27th in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Having already qualified for the 2018 Open Championship, the 28-year-old earned invites to the 2018 PGA Championship, the 2018 PLAYERS, and the 2018 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational – among a host of other goodies. He can also earn a spot into the 2018 U.S. Open by winning THE PLAYERS, or more than likely, later via the OWGR.
Kodaira is no stranger to the winner’s circle, tasting victory six times on the Japan Golf Tour, including at two of their majors.
In his last 32 worldwide starts, he’s now recorded 16 top 10s, 12 of those top 5s, including three wins and two runners-up.
- Kodaira’s previous-best finish on TOUR was T28 last week in his Masters debut.
- It was his third straight made cut in majors (five events total) and posted three rounds of par or better (71-74-71-72). Kodaira was also the second-best debutant at the 82nd Masters to Tony Finau’s T10.
- Of the 19 first-timers this week, he was the only top-10 finisher. This was also the first time that he’s connected three straight sub-par rounds on TOUR.
- On a difficult day for scoring – winds 15-25 mph, gusts to 35 – Kodaira’s Sunday 66 was 5.4 strokes better than the field average. Of note, he also shot a 4-under 67 in R3 at last year’s PGA Championship (Quail Hollow Club) in the other Carolina, which tied the low round of the day and was 5.2 strokes better than the field.
Season Form: P1-28-59-MC-54-MC