By Sam McPherson
After tying for 28th place last week in his inaugural appearance at The Masters, Satoshi Kodaira of Japan won his first PGA Tour event on Sunday at the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head, South Carolina. He shot a 66 in the fourth round to qualify for a playoff against Si Woo Kim of South Korea. After both players parred two holes in sudden death, Kodaira birdied the third hole to claim the championship at the Harbour Town Golf Links and the $1.2 million winner’s purse.
Kim started the fourth round in second place, and his 71 score almost was good enough to win the event, if Kodaira had not moved up 11 spots with his five-under round on Sunday to finish at 12 under for the tournament as well. Kim then missed a 21-foot putt on the third playoff hole that could have forced a fourth. He won the 2017 Players Championship at age 21, and Kim was looking to secure his third PGA Tour win with the steady effort in the final round at Harbour Town.
Americans Bryson DeChambeau and Luke List tied for third at 11-under par overall, as DeChambeau also shot a final-round 66 to move up a whopping 17 spots in the standings on Sunday. Nine of the top 13 finishers were U.S. players, including fifth-place finishers Billy Horschel and Webb Simpson at 10-under. Third-round leader Ian Poulter of England faltered by carding a closing-round 75, dropping into a tie for seventh place at 9-under par. He was shooting for his second Tour victory in three weeks after winning the Houston Open two weeks ago.
Kodaira plays primarily on the Japan Golf Tour, where he has won six times. The 28-year-old professional from Tokyo has won two majors on that tour, and he has competed in all four of the major championships in the United States and England at least once. His week at Harbour Town was a bit uneven; he shot 73 on Thursday, a tournament-best 63 on Friday and 70 on Saturday. But all that mattered on Sunday was Kodaira’s ability to come from six shots back in the final round to win.
For the 46th-ranked player in the world, his eighth professional win will be a memorable one, capped off by the 25-foot birdie putt he made on the third playoff hole to win for the first time in the United States. Considering he had to wait about an hour after finishing the fourth round, Kodaira’s extra-hole performance was even more impressive.
Next On The Tee: Valero Texas Open
The first Texas Open took place in 1922, making this Tour stop one of the oldest in professional golf. Kevin Chappell won the event last year, shooting 12-under to edge out fellow American Brooks Koepka by one stroke. There is a $6.2 million purse up for grabs on the Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio, and Chappell will have his hands full defending his title.
The field includes recent Texas Open winners Charley Hoffman (2016), Jimmy Walker (2015), Steven Bowditch (2014), and Martin Laird (2013). In addition, two-time event winner Zach Johnson (2008, 2009) will try to match Justin Leonard (2000, 2001, 2007) and the legendary Arnold Palmer (1960-1962) with a third Texas Open victory, the all-time record for the event.
Two-time British Open champion Greg Norman, in consultation with 2017 Masters winner Sergio Garcia, designed the course, which has been used for this event since 2010. The 18th hole is a monster 591 yards, and it may play a big role in determining this year’s Texas Open winner.
The TPC San Antonio’s Oaks Course plays 7,435 yards long and is a par 72.
Favorites: Billy Horschel, Luke List, Brendan Steele
Players to Watch: Kevin Chappell, Charley Hoffman, Si Woo Kim
Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering baseball, football, basketball, golf and fantasy sports for CBS Local. He also is an Ironman triathlete and certified triathlon coach. Follow him on Twitter @sxmcp, because he’s quite prolific despite also being a college English professor and a certified copy editor.