Golf: Kodaira Wins Rbc Heritage For 1st Pga Tour Title










Golf: Kodaira wins RBC Heritage for 1st PGA Tour title

Japan's Satoshi Kodaira came from six shots back to defeat Kim Si Woo of South Korea on a third extra hole to win the RBC Heritage Sunday, his first title on the PGA Tour.

Kodaira, who entered the final round at the Harbour Town Golf Links in 12th, carded seven birdies and two bogeys over the regulation 18 holes to equal the day's low of 66 and join 2017 Players champion Kim atop the leaderboard on 12-under 272, forcing a sudden-death playoff.

Kodaira at the victory ceremony (Getty/Kyodo)

Young American up-and-comer Bryson DeChambeau also carded a 66 on Sunday, with a run of four straight birdies on his final four holes nearly getting him into the playoff, but he had to settle for third.

The 28-year-old Kodaira, who has six career victories on the Japanese tour and finished second on the money list in his home country last year, became the first player from Japan to win the RBC Heritage, and fifth to win an event on the U.S. men's pro tour.

"When I waited in the clubhouse I never imagined this would happen," said Kodaira, who rose 19 places to 27th on the world golf rankings after the victory.

"I never thought I would win this soon. I'm in shock," he said.

Kodaira said he quickly found his rhythm when he opened the day with three straight birdies and that his 25-foot playoff-winning birdie putt on the 17th green "felt really good."

Kodaira reacts after making his birdie putt on the third playoff hole. (Getty/Kyodo)

"I wasn't nervous, I stayed focused...it went exactly where I aimed," Kodaira said of the putt that won him the plaid jacket.

"Wow, getting full-time (PGA Tour) membership so soon...Now I can play in a lot of tournaments so I have to reshuffle my schedule. I hope this win helps me get myself in contention for a major."

"I have only played in Japan until now so it is unreal that I made the top-50 so soon."

Before Kodaira's victory, Hideki Matsuyama was the most recent Japanese to win on the PGA Tour. He claimed the World Golf Championship-Bridgestone Invitational title in August last year.

The current Japanese No. 1 said he saw Kodaira's effort and was impressed.

"Congratulations (go to Kodaira), I was watching the playoff and that last birdie putt was really something," Matsuyama said from Japan.

Isao Aoki, Shigeki Maruyama and Ryuji Imada are the other Japanese golfers with PGA Tour wins.

Kim (L) and Kodaira after a playoff (Getty/Kyodo)