Kim wins 2nd AZ Stroke Play Championship title
Chan Kim of Gilbert, shot a final round one-over 71 en route to his second Arizona Stroke Play Championship at TPC Scottsdale-Champions Course posting a four-day total of seven-under 273. Andrew Medley of Phoenix, Takaya Fuji of Tucson and Kyle Jones of Taylor finished tied for second at two-under 278. Brandon Moore of Peoria was alone in fifth at one-under 279. There was a three-way tie for sixth with Kyle Kallan of Surprise, Bob Burton of Scottsdale and Darren Hupfer of Edmonton, Alberta who finished at two-over 282.
The victory is the fourth consecutive year that the tournament has been won by a golfer from Hamilton High School. Andrew Yun, a former teammate of Kim’s has the other two victories. The championship also makes Kim one of only four players with multiple wins including Billy Mayfair who won back-to-back titles and 10-time AGA Player the Year Ken Kellaney, who has four championships.
Kim, who started the day with a six-shot lead, struggled off the tee, but never was in serious jeopardy of losing his lead. The closes it got was Medley narrowing the gap to four shots after the 13th hole.
“It was a battle during the weekend and I’m definitely happy to have one, especially here at TPC Scottsdale,” Kim said. “I love this golf course and the staff. It’s just a great place.”
Kim, who played the front nine at one-under par 34 had three birdies and two bogeys to start the day and was not able to fully capitalize on the par five opportunities that had proved to be such good scoring opportunities the first two days.
“Starting off the day I look to the par fives with the expectation to birdie each of them during the round and then an occasional birdied on the 359-yard par four 15th hole and those would be solid rounds,” he said. “But, I couldn’t putt for the whole week and was missing them left and right. A few dropped in, but for the most part, they were lagged or I would tap in for a birdie. I’m probably going to take a couple of days off, have a lesson on Tuesday, and focus on putting. My coach is out here, hopefully get that straightened out.
With trouble lurking on most holes, Chan made a big par saving putt on the fifth hole after his tee shot landed in the junk and he flew the green with his approach shot. On the 145-yard par three sixth hole, he was lucky to escape with a bogey four, after hitting the ball nearly out of bounds to the left with a near impossible shot to the green.
On the back nine, which Kim says presents him with many birdie opportunities he could only post one sub-par score with a birdie three on the 446-yard 12th hole. Three bogeys including one on the 18th, left Kim feeling a bit frustrated, but fortunate that he had escaped without too much injury.
“I could have played a lot worse today,” Kim said. “I had a lot of lucky things happen this week. Defiantly one of the reasons I won, was I got some lucky bounces. Overall I’m very excited and very pleased on how I played this week and hope it will carry on this summer.”
Medley, who started the day seven shots back said it would take a miracle to win the championship, but gave it his best shot and was four under after the front nine.
“I did everything I needed to do to put myself in a good position on the back nine,” he said. “My whole outlook was to stay aggressive. If I was going to go down, I wanted to go down swinging. At the turn, I thought I was in a good position to pull of that miracle.”
The aggressive play didn’t pan out and Medley couldn’t close the gap posting a three-over 35.
Fuji, 23 who attends the University of Arizona, played in the last group with Kim and really never gave it a strong run.
“I wasn’t hitting the ball well this week,” he said. “Today I really needed to put the pressure on Chan to have a chance. I didn’t give up and was waiting hit the ball better and I was lucky to shoot even par. Overall I was really excited with the way I played on the back side and didn’t give up mentally which kept me in there.”