Anthony Kim won the Shell Houston Open at Redstone Golf Club, beating Vaughn Taylor at the first hole of a sudden-death playoff.
With one hole remaining of regulation play, extra holes seemed an unlikely prospect with Taylor two adrift of Kim. But as Kim waited on the final tee, Taylor stalked a birdie putt up at the green.
Thinking a bogey would be good enough for victory, Kim played a conservative tee shot with a 3-wood. Steering it away from the water he found a right-hand fairway bunker a long way short of the green. Taylor then rolled his birdie putt home meaning Kim needed a par to win outright.
The 24-year-old played a solid long iron from the bunker but it came up just short of the green in another sand trap. His splash shot was a good one and he pumped his fist as his ball came to rest just five feet past the cup.
Kim had been holing putts of that length with some ease through the round but, with the pressure of closing out his first tournament win since the 2008 AT&T National, he pushed his effort past the right edge.
That meant a playoff was required so the pair headed back to the 18th tee. This time Kim played the hole in regulation, two putting from 30 feet for a par. Taylor hit a bad drive and found the greenside bunker with his approach. His recovery shot left a 20-foot putt, he left it short and the title went to Kim.
“I’ve put in a lot of hard work, so I feel like when I’m out there, I know I’m going to do well,” Kim said. “Having that confidence really has propelled my game, I feel like, to a different level.”
With the victory, Kim moved to second in the FedEx Cup standings and will head to next week’s US Masters with great confidence after four straight top-25 finishes.
Augusta native Taylor needed a victory to qualify for the Masters. “I’m hugely disappointed, it’s a tough pill to swallow,” he said. “It was a must make and it’s kind of embarrassing to leave it short,” he said of his par effort on the first playoff hole.
South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel had a good week to end tied for third while Lee Westwood struggled on the greens over the weekend which prevented him from threatening the leaders.
Shell Houston Open
Redstone Golf Club, Texas
April 1-4, purse $5,800,000, par 72
1 Anthony Kim (USA) 68 69 69 70 276 $1,044,000
2 Vaughn Taylor (USA) 68 70 70 68 276 $626,400
T3 Graham DeLaet (Can) 71 67 71 68 277 $336,400
T3 Charl Schwartzel (RSA) 71 72 67 67 277 $336,400
5 Shaun Micheel (USA) 70 73 70 65 278 $232,000
T6 Jeff Maggert (USA) 70 69 70 70 279 $201,550
T6 Kevin Stadler (USA) 67 70 74 68 279 $201,550
T8 Matt Kuchar (USA) 69 72 69 70 280 $168,200
T8 Bryce Molder (USA) 69 66 71 74 280 $168,200
T8 Lee Westwood (Eng) 69 68 72 71 280 $168,200
Note: Player scores in bold signifies Titleist ball usage only