Coming from five behind at the start of the day, Satoshi Kodaira of Japan fires a final-round 66 to force a playoff, then birdies the third extra hole to defeat Si Woo Kim of Korea. Welcome to the Monday Finish, where Kodaira followed a second-round 63 with an even more impressive 66 two days later in windy weather, breaking through at scenic Harbour Town. FIVE OBSERVATIONS 1. Yes, Kodairaâ€™s victory was surprising, even to him. For one thing, when he speaks of Japanâ€™s most famous player, five-time PGA TOUR winner Hideki Matsuyama, Kodaira still speaks with the reverence Wayne and Garth once reserved for Aerosmith. â€œHideki is a great player,â€� said Kodaira, who is in fact two years older than Matsuyama. â€œAnd of course Iâ€™m not as good as him, but Iâ€™m getting closer.â€� Before Harbour Town, Kodaira had missed the cut at the Sony Open in Hawaii and Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard; finished 54th at the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship and T59 at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play; and peaked with a T28 at the Masters. His results hardly seemed to indicate that this was coming, and he came into the RBC ranked 46th in the world. (Heâ€™s up to 27th. Matsuyama is eighth.) On the other hand, Japan Golf Tour fans were perhaps less shocked. Kodaira, 28, is a six-time winner on that tour, and has also collected three second-place finishes, and five thirds. 2. Runner-up Si Woo Kim moved up 24 spots to 26th in the FedExCup, and he played some great shots under pressure. Alas, he had a bad putting day at exactly the wrong time. Many will look back on Kimâ€™s missed birdie from 6 feet, 4 inches on the last hole of regulation, but that was part of a larger nine-hole stretch on the back nine in which he could not buy a birdie. Also, donâ€™t forget that Kim would have still won by two had he not incurred a two-shot penalty for wiping sand off the green between his ball and the 14th hole Friday. Amazingly, despite a triple bogey there, he still shot a second-round 65. Silver lining: Heâ€™s rounding into form nicely for his title defense at THE PLAYERS Championship next month. â€œEven though Iâ€™m not an American player,â€� he said at Harbour Town, â€œIâ€™m just incredibly grateful to see some of these fans cheering my name and cheering for me in the playoff.â€� 3. Luke List just keeps on knocking on the door, and as he said afterward, it seems likely to open for him sometime soon. The Vanderbilt product admittedly wasnâ€™t sharp in the final round, but he still gave himself an excellent chance to join the playoff by parking his approach shot to 10 feet, 3 inches on the last hole of regulation. He missed, his face a picture of agony, and signed for a 1-over 72 to finish T3. The bigger picture, though, shows a positive trajectory: in 16 starts this season, List has nine top-25 finishes, including four top 10s. His best: a playoff runner-up to Justin Thomas at The Honda Classic. List, who is originally from Seattle but plays out of Virginia Country Club in Long Beach, Calif., moved from 20th to 11th in the FedExCup. 4. Ian Poulter finally ran out of gas, which was understandable given the run heâ€™s been on, a six-week stretch of tournament play that began at the Valspar Championship outside Tampa. Poulter made a run to the quarterfinals at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play; won the Houston Open to earn a last-second Masters invite; and while he did little besides make the cut at Augusta National, he built a one-stroke lead through 54 holes at Harbour Town. Alas, after a 47-hole stretch without a bogey earlier in the tournament, Poulter shot a 4-over 75 to finish 9 under and T7, making five of his six bogeys on the inward nine holes. Still, itâ€™s worth remembering Poulter came into last yearâ€™s RBC Heritage at 210 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He came into this one 31st, and is now 29th. Oh, and donâ€™t look now, but itâ€™s a Ryder Cup year. 5. Harbour Town was the weekâ€™s big winner, as usual. The 7,099-yard, par-71 stood its ground as the field averaged 70.847 for the week, and 12-under was good enough to get into the playoff. The par-3 14th hole gave players fits, and all week players commented on how the layout was proof that one need not build a course to be 8,000 yards long to create a challenge. â€œThe fairways sometimes arenâ€™t quite good enough,â€� Poulter said. â€œYou have to hit the right or left half of them. And itâ€™s a great test of golf. â€¦ Itâ€™s a very clever course. Itâ€™s not the longest one we play, but itâ€™s probably the smartest one.â€� FIVE INSIGHTS 1. Kodaira became the third player to win a TOUR event this season after opening with a 73. Jason Day (Farmers Insurance Open) and Poulter (Houston Open) were the first two. Kodaira collected his first win in his 15th PGA TOUR start, and his longest made putt of the week, of 24 feet, 6 inches, came as he closed out Kim on the third playoff hole (17). 2. Kodaira separated himself from the field on his approach shots. He averaged 29 feet, 6 inches on his approaches, which was nearly six feet closer than the field (35 feet, 5 inches) and was the third best average proximity to the hole by a winner on TOUR this season. His third-round 63 marked the fourth round of 63 or better by a winner at the RBC. Peter Lonard went for 62 in the first round of the 2005 RBC, while Loren Roberts (round three, 1996) and Jim Furyk (round four, 2015) also shot 63 in winning efforts. 3. Since 2007, seven of the 11 RBC Heritage champions have qualified for the TOUR Championship. Kodaira said it has always been his dream to play the PGA TOUR, and verbally accepted membership Sunday. Should he formally do so, he would earn a two-year membership with his win, carrying him through the 2019-20 season. And his non-member FedExCup points would transfer over to the member list. Should he accept TOUR membership, his win would also get him into THE PLAYERS Championship, Fort Worth Invitational, the Memorial Tournament, The National, and the PGA Championship. For next season, he gets into the Sentry Tournament of Champions, CareerBuilder Challenge, Arnold Palmer Invitational, and RBC Heritage. 4. Harbour Townâ€™s small greens highlighted the importance of good iron play. Kodaira was seventh in the field in strokes gained: approach-the-green, and Kim was 12th. Meanwhile, Bryson DeChambeau and Luke List, who tied for third, were second and third, respectively. 5. There were six bogey-free rounds Thursday, nine Friday, three Saturday, and none Sunday. TOP THREE VIDEOS
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