Silvis, Ill. — Michael Kim didn’t just win his first PGA Tour event on Sunday. He dominated in a fashion never seen at TPC Deere Run. Kim’s prizes? A little over a million bucks, a two-year exemption on tour and a trip to the British Open.
Kim shot a final-round 66 on Sunday to win the John Deere Classic by a record-setting eight strokes. Kim, who turned 25 Saturday, finished at 27-under 257 to break Steve Stricker’s tournament record from 2010 by a shot.
Kim also qualified for this week’s Open at Carnoustie — an unexpected bonus for a player who had missed five of his last six cuts before his breakthrough in the Quad Cities.
Kim made 30 birdies for the week, a season high on Tour.
“To be able to finish out in style like this, it means a lot,” said Kim, who nearly quadrupled his season earnings with a winner’s share of $1.044 million. “To be sitting here with a trophy, I’m at a loss for words.”
Bronson Burgoon, Francesco Molinari, Joel Dahmen and Sam Ryder all finished at 19 under.
Kim took all the drama out of the final round with birdies on his first three holes and secured the largest margin of victory during the tournament’s stay at the course, which began in 2000. J.P. Hayes (2002) and Vijay Singh (2003) won by four strokes.
Kim, who had previously had just one top-10 finish in 84 career starts — a third at the Safeway Open two years ago — entered play with a five-shot lead. It was the biggest edge for a third-round leader at the John Deere Classic since Stricker’s six-stroke advantage eight years ago.
Kim, a former star at Cal who had struggled to find his footing as a pro, made it obvious from his first swing that he wasn’t about to let anyone catch him.
Kim knocked in a 13-foot birdie putt on the opening hole, and then holed two more from 15 and 24 feet to give him seven straight birdies dating back to the end of Saturday’s round — and a seven-shot lead.
The field might have felt a glimmer of hope when Kim dumped his tee shot into the greenside bunker on the par-3 seventh hole.
But Kim got his bunker shot to within 7 feet and made the downhill par putt, and he walked to the next tee with an eight-shot edge.
“Even the last couple of weeks, I felt like my game was getting there,” Kim said. “I just felt like I needed just a couple of good starts to the rounds.”
Kim surpassed Stricker’s mark with a 21-foot putt on No. 16. The understated Kim finally let loose, holding his hand to his ear in a nod to a cheering gallery.
In Highland Park, Ill., Vijay Singh birdied the second playoff hole to beat Jeff Maggert and win the Senior Players Championship.
Singh knocked in a putt from about 2 feet after a nearly perfect approach on the 18th hole at Exmoor Country Club. He gave an understated fist pump as the ball fell in, giving him his first major title on the PGA Tour Champions.
Singh (67) and Maggert (68) finished at 20-under 268. Brandt Jobe (66) was two strokes behind, while Jerry Kelly (64) and defending champion Scott McCarron (71) was at 17 under.
Senior Women’s Open
In Wheaton, Ill., Laura Davies went virtually unchallenged in Sunday’s final round of the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open, claiming the title by 10 strokes over Juli Inkster.
The 54-year-old Davies shot a 5-under 68 to finish at 16-under 276 at Chicago Golf Club in the USGA’s championship for women 50 and older.
A 7-under 66 Saturday provided Davies with a five-shot lead over Inkster. The World Golf Hall of Famer from England widened her advantage early Sunday when she birdied the par-5 second hole and Inkster made bogey.
Davies’ lead never fell below six after that as she added to her trophy collection. She has 85 career victories, still plays on the LPGA Tour and finished tied for second at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup earlier this year.
Elaine Crosby, the first-round leader from Birmingham, finished tied for 23rd at 13 over.
In Gullane, Scotland Brandon Stone sank to his knees and dropped his putter in despair after narrowly missing out on becoming the first player to shoot a round of 59 on the European Tour.
Stone’s 10-under 60 secured his win at the Scottish Open, earning him a third pro title and a spot in the British Open.
In South Lake Tahoe, Nev., former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo rallied from four points back to win his first American Century Championship.
Romo, who retired after the 2016 NFL season, had 27 points on the day using the modified Stableford scoring system to beat three-time defending champion Mark Mulder (Michigan State) and San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski, the leader after the opening two rounds.
Charles Barkley finished in last with minus-93 points.