Kodaira rallies to win 3-hole playoff at RBC Heritage

Kodaira rallies to win 3-hole playoff at RBC Heritage
The Associated Press

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (AP) — Satoshi Kodaira made a 25-foot birdie putt on the third playoff hole to defeat Si Woo Kim after coming from six shots behind in the final round of the RBC Heritage on Sunday for his first PGA Tour victory.

Kodaira had finished off his round of 66 to get to 12-under par about an hour before Kim finished. Kodaira matched Kim with two pars on the 18th hole before rolling in his winning putt on the par-3 17th.

Kim came up short on his 21-footer for birdie to keep the playoff going.

Bryson DeChambeau (66) and Luke List (72) were tied for third. Third-round leader Ian Poulter’s bid for a second tour title in three weeks ended with a 75 and a tie for seventh.

Kodaira, 28, is ranked 46th in the world. He has won three tournaments in Japan and played in the Masters last week, finishing tied for 28th.

Start times were pushed up Sunday morning because of bad weather forecast for later in the day.

The tournament appeared in steady hands with Kim, whose bulldog focus and shot-making held everyone off to win The Players Championship last May. But the 22-year-old faltered over his final nine holes of regulation with three bogeys to fall into the tie with Kodaira.

Kim thought the increased winds slowed down the greens, making putts more difficult on the final nine holes. “But I tried my best and the putts didn’t drop,” Kim said. “It is what it is.”

Poulter, who dramatically won the Houston Open two weeks ago for his first tour win in more than five years, had six bogeys Sunday after making just two in his first three rounds.

Kodaira was the hardest charged and few even realized until the final threesome of Kim, Poulter and List all came back to the pack.

Playing Harbour Town for the first time, Kodaira opened with a 73, then followed with the tournament’s best round of the week, 63, on Friday. That game kicked in once more in the final round, with six birdies on the way to the playoff.

DeChambeau, the 24-year-old second-round leader who fell apart with a Saturday 75, bounced back Sunday with a 66 to finish two shots back. His roller coaster of a tournament played out again Sunday as he rose three shots to 9-under, then fell back to 7-under before closing with consecutive birdies on the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th holes.

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson finished with his best round of the week, a 67, and was tied for 16th, good enough for him to keep the top spot for a 61st consecutive week.

He will take the next three weeks off, starting with a vacation to the Bahamas —”I’m headed there right now,” he said, smiling — until he returns to action at The Players Championship.

Johnson said his problem this season has been on the greens, calling his putting subpar from what he expects. He said he plans to work things out over the break and “be ready for the Players.”

Threatening storms forecast for late Sunday afternoon and early evening forced the PGA Tour to move up start times to 7 a.m., with the leaders going off about two hours later. The weather, while overcast and windy at times, remained calm enough to get in the final round without disruption.

___

For more AP golf coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Golf

.