(Reuters) - American Michael Kim cruised to his first PGA Tour victory and a trip to the British Open with a runaway win in the John Deere Classic on Sunday.
Kim birdied his first three holes and was never challenged as he shot five-under 66 to win by eight strokes at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Illinois a day after his 25th birthday.
With all four rounds in the 60s, the South Korean-born golfer finished on 27-under 257, a tournament record.
Italian Francesco Molinari (64) and Americans Joel Dahmen (65), Sam Ryder (66) and Bronson Burgoon (69) tied for second at 265.
“I just got off to a fantastic start,” Kim, who had missed the cut in five of his previous six tournaments, told PGA Tour Radio. “The putter was hot again today. To finish with no bogeys today, I am so proud of myself.”
The trip to the British Open, which begins on Thursday at Carnoustie in Scotland, will be Kim’s second career major. He tied for 17th and was the low amateur at the 2013 U.S. Open, the same year he was the national collegiate player of the year.
Kim, who joined the PGA Tour full-time in 2016, began the final day with a five-stroke lead after four consecutive birdies to complete the third round on Saturday and added three more to start Sunday’s play.
He collected two more birdies, on the eighth and 16th holes, before sinking a five-foot putt for a par at the last with his family looking on.
“I didn’t get much sleep last night,” he said. “I probably went through a million scenarios in my head.
“One of those scenarios was if I get off to a great start on the first two, I’ll really show those guys not much to look at, which would be great.”
Kim, whose previous career best finish was a tie for third at the Safeway Open in late 2016 and was ranked 473rd in the world at the beginning of the week, added he felt it was only a matter of time before his game clicked.
He got off to a great start on Thursday with a 63, the lowest round of the tournament, and backed that up with 64s on Friday and Saturday.
“Even the last couple of weeks, I felt like the game was getting there,” Kim told CBS Sports.
“I felt like I just needed a couple of good starts with the rounds, a couple of swings. I felt like it was going to switch.”
Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina, editing by Ed Osmond/Greg Stutchbury