Tom Kim Successfully Defends Title at Shriners Children’s Open

Tom Kim Wins Shriners Children's Open at TPC Summerlin
Tom Kim reacts after winning the Shriners Children's Open at TPC Summerlin on Oct 15, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Orlando Ramirez via Getty Images)

The high rollers on the strip in “Sin City” weren’t the only ones rolling the dice this week in Las Vegas. You can also add the brain trust behind this year’s 41st Edition of the Shriners Children’s Open to that group. It looked like the PGA Tour was looking for some way to make this year’s Open something special.

The organizers huddled together and decided to revive a seldom used tactic that seemed to work in the past. Why not invite a LPGA player to participate in the Shriners Children’s Open? The PGA Tour rolled the dice and extended an invitation to Lexi Thompson to play in this week’s event on a sponsor’s exemption, and she accepted!

When Lexi was asked about her decision to play. She said, “I’ve been under the microscope I guess since I was 12 years old, you just have to block out everything and believe in yourself and go after what you want. No added pressure. That’s what I want. I want to have women support me, and me support them.”

After finishing her first round early Friday morning and posting a 2-over 73, the eleven-time LPGA Tour winner stepped on the gas on day two carding a 2-under 69 to fall just short of making the cut in her PGA Tour debut.

Lexi Thompson PGA Tour
Lexi Thompson plays her shot from the 4th tee during the first round of the Shriners Children’s Open at TPC Summerlin on Oct 12, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Michael Owens via Getty Images)

When asked if she would do it again, Thompson said, “Yeah, of course, I mean this was such a special moment for me and to have my family and loved ones here with me it was even more special. So, we’ll see.”

Thompson is just the second woman to finish a round in the 60s on the PGA Tour after Michelle Wie West carded 68 two separate times at the Sony Open. Lexi left no doubt in everyone’s mind that she can compete with the men.

She followed in the footsteps of an elite band of women golfers who have played in men’s events on the PGA Tour. A list that begins with the legendary Babe Didrikson Zaharias in (1935 -1946), Shirley Spork (1952), Annika Sorenstam (2003), Suzy Whaley (2003) Michelle Wie West (2004-08), and Brittany Lincicome (2018) are the only other women to compete in a PGA Tour event.

The TPC Summerlin Course is a par 71 and 7,255-yard course designed by Bobby Weed and Fuzzy Zoeller. It is considered to be one of the easier courses on the PGA Tour and has often been referred to as the tour’s yearly “birdie fest.” An $8.4 million purse is up for grabs, with $1.51 million to the winner. Tom Kim was the winner of last year’s Children’s Open.

A number of marquee players entered into this week’s tournament found themselves heading back home Friday night, including Charley Hoffman -2, Ryan Palmer -2, Adam Schenk -2, Scott Stallings -2, Stewart Clink -1, Emiliano Grillo E, and the aforementioned Lexi Thompson E.

The third round saw the leaderboard in constant motion as players moved in and out of the top-6 places until the dust settled at the end of a long day at the TPC Summerlin Course. This was the leaderboard going into Sunday’s finale: 1.) Lanto Griffin (-15), Adam Hadwin (-15), Kim (-15); 4.) Kyoung-Hoon Lee (-14), Taylor Pendrith (-14) and Vince Whaley (-14).

The final round was greeted with bright sunny skies and light winds. The day started with 17 players either at the top of the leaderboard or within three shots of the lead and that really hasn’t changed as it became even more crowded at the TPC Summerlin Course just 10 miles from the Las Vegas Strip.

Eric Cole, who started the final round at -9, posted a low-round 62 to claim the clubhouse lead at -18.

This was the leaderboard as the final pairing reached the 10th tee: 1.) Cole (-18); 2.) Kim (-17), Beau Hossler (-17), Pendrith (-17), Alex Noren (-17), and Joel Dahmen (-17).

Tom Kim Wins Shriners Children's Open at TPC Summerlin
Tom Kim with caddie Joseph Skovron during the final round of the Shriners Children’s Open at TPC Summerlin on Oct 15, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Michael Owens via Getty Images)

Following the leaderboard was like trying to follow one during a horse race. It just had players changing positions throughout the round on almost every hole.

The leaderboard eventually turned into a two-man race as the final twosome of Kim (-20) and Hadwin (-19) reached the par-5 16th hole. Kim was on in two and Hadwin reached the green in four after hitting his second shot into the water in front of the green. Hadwin would go on to bogey the hole and drop to -18, while Kim remained at -20 following a par.

At this point in the tournament, there were five players two shots below Kim at -18 with only two of them still on the course.

In the end, Kim successfully defended his 2022 Championship here at the Shriners Children’s Open with a score of 20-under par. He also picked up a check for $1.51 million and 500 FedEx points. This was Kim’s third career PGA Tour victory. He also won the 2022 Wyndham Championship and the 2022 Shriners Children’s Open. At just 21, the South Korean became the youngest player to win three PGA Tour titles since Tiger Woods.

Hadwin birdied the 18th hole to reach 19-under par, good for solo second, and a check for $915,600 and 300 FedEx points.

Cole, J.T.Poston, Noren, and Pendrith finished tied for third on 18 under. They split the third- through sixth-place checks and points.

Kim was asked by the Golf Channels reporter, “How do you feel after successfully defending your Championship here at the Children’s Open.”

Tom Kim Wins Shriners Children's Open at TPC Summerlin
Tom Kim poses with the trophy after winning the Shriners Children’s Open at TPC Summerlin on Oct 15, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Orlando Ramirez via Getty Images)

Kim responded, “It was a long day, I’m not gonna lie to you. You know, I just kind of really felt confident about myself. You know I was playing really well; I knew that if I just kind of did me.

“I was gonna be able to do it, and it’s been a long season you know. It’s almost a year later and here we are again.

“I’m very very fortunate to defend again and really just going to give glory to the man above for just kind of guiding me. You know I’ve learned so much this year and it’s been such a blessing. It’s been very humbling, but now I’m happy to get this one for our team.”

The Children’s Open event is the last one to be held in the United States until the RSM Classic Nov 16-19 at St. Simons Island, GA. The next three tournaments are scheduled to be held in Chiba, Japan (ZOZO Championship), Los Cabo’s, Mexico (Worldwide Technology Championship), and Southampton, Bermuda (Butterfield Bermuda Championship).



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