Kim won by three over Ian Poulter and Louis Oosthuizen, Poulter appearing to be Kim’s biggest threat as the day wore on but a soft bogey at the short par-four 12th and a self-confessed shank at the 72nd hole cost him another bogey and he would tie for second with Oosthuizen.
Kim remained resolute throughout the final day and handled the dangerous finishing stretch in the fashion of someone with significantly more experience. He was the only player to be bogey-free on the final day, withstanding intense pressure to reel off nine consecutive pars to finish.
Not only is the win lucrative in money terms (US$1.89 million), it offers Kim five years exemption on the PGA Tour, access to majors in the next few years and will elevate him from 75th place to inside the top 30 in the world rankings.
It is a career-changing week for the young man who joined the PGA Tour as an 18-year-old after becoming the youngest golfer to qualify for the tour a few months earlier at the age of 17.
Kim was unable to become a member of the PGA Tour until 18 but is getting better with each year and is shaping as a player capable of equalling, if not surpassing, the exploits of countrymen Choi and Y.E. Yang
It was Kim’s second PGA Tour title having won the Wyndham Championship in 2016. He also became one of the youngest winners on the Web.Com Tour when successful at the Stonebrae Classic in 2015.
“I still can't believe that I'm the champion and I'm the youngest champion for this championship and I'm very honoured to be the champion for this amazing fifth major event and I'm looking forward to working hard from now on,” said Kim via a translator soon after his win.
“I feel like I'm still dreaming. I never expected that I'm going to win this tournament and I wasn't doing that well at the beginning of this year but I'm just so excited that I could be the champion for this tournament.”
Kim, who has battled some injury issues previously, recently started working with Tiger Woods' former coach, Sean Foley, and is pleased with his progress since. "I'm starting this year in L.A. (with Foley) and then after L.A. I've been getting better and better and now it's really, it feels good."
Adam Scott produced a superb closing nine of 32 after playing his way out of any chance of winning with an outward nine of 38. The 2004 Players champion played the treacherous final three holes in two under to finish tied 6th.
“Well, in the end I survived, I guess,” Scott said after his final round. “It was a pretty tough week, very challenging. I think I played lots of good golf and now I get to digest how costly the double-double on Thursday was.
“Overall, there was lots of good stuff for me. My putting was really solid, bit shaky on the front nine today but then I putted well on the back nine. Overall, I'm fairly pleased, but for me I just am going to go away and work on how to solidify my long game. There's like 14 holes of good stuff tee to green and then there's four every day that are below my standard, and I would like to lift that up consistency wise to get it solid for the U.S. Open so I feel I can feature there.”
Aaron Baddeley finished 41st, Rod Pampling 48th and defending champion Jason Day 60th after his final round of 80.
Day struggled for much of the day but his score was made even worse by a quadruple bogey 9 at the 16th and double bogey at the 17th.
GW GOLF LOVE: WHY JASON DAY LOVES THE GAME