Sung Kang gets breakthrough victory in Byron Nelson ahead of PGA Championship

Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Sung Kang gets breakthrough victory in Byron Nelson ahead of PGA Championship

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Sung Kang gets breakthrough victory in Byron Nelson ahead of PGA Championship

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With soft fairways and calm conditions, Trinity Forest didn’t offer much of a test in its second year hosting the AT&T Byron Nelson.

Nor did anyone in the field test Sung Kang down the stretch en route to his first career PGA Tour victory Sunday.

The 31-year-old from South Korea ran away from Matt Every, Brooks Koepka and the rest of the contenders with a 4-under 67 in the final round, securing victory in his 159th Tour start. Kang shot 23-under 261 for the week, the lowest winning score in relation to par since Adam Long took home the Desert Classic in January at 26 under.

Every finished T-2 alongside Scott Piercy at 22 under and was looking for his first win since the 2015 Arnold Palmer Invitational, as well as a spot in next week’s PGA Championship at Bethpage Black. He came up short in large part due to a two-shot swing at the par-4 15th hole, prior to which he was tied for the lead with Kang at 21 under.

SCORING: AT&T Byron Nelson leaderboard

Every missed the green from just 131 yards out and two-putted for bogey. Kang dropped a 22-foot birdie putt amid a run of three straight birdies and never looked back.

As for Piercy, he failed to win despite finishing all four rounds bogey-free, something that hasn’t happened since Charles Howell III finished T-10 at the 2009 Greenbrier.

Touted as a firm and fast links-style layout with nuance for days, it’s easy to see the potential unique challenge Trinity Forest can offer in the coming years. But the wind was a non-factor throughout the week, just like when Aaron Wise picked up his debut win in 2018 at 23 under, and players ate it up.

Even without a brutal U.S. Open setup, next week’s PGA Championship at Bethpage Black will prove a far more difficult task for the field.

Brooks Koepka is among the favorites entering the week and will be going for his fourth major championship in eight tries. Based on his Byron Nelson showing, he’s up for the challenge. Koepka finished fourth at 20 under in his first action since the Zurich Classic and shot 68 or lower in all four rounds. Not bad considering he’d never seen the golf course before and a sign that he’s all systems go entering Bethpage.

Jordan Spieth shot a disappointing even-par 71 Sunday to finish T-29, which is still his second-best result of the season behind a T-21 at the Masters. He kept the mistakes to a minimum and now at least has some positive momentum to build on ahead of his Career Grand Slam bid at the PGA Championship.

Kang had already qualified for the PGA Championship prior to Sunday’s breakthrough victory and would have quietly blended in among a field that includes all of the top 100 players in the Official World Golf Rankings.

Now the spotlight will be a little brighter and New York fans will know Kang’s name.

While Sunday’s final round didn’t offer much excitement, that’s about to change as the best in the world gather for the highly-anticipated return to Bethpage for the year’s second major.

   

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