Kodaira wins RBC Heritage in playoff

Kodaira wins RBC Heritage in playoff
Satoshi Kodaira (WTOC)

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC (WTOC) - Mother Nature forced plenty of changes, but the winner of the 50th RBC Heritage was Satoshi Kodaira.

The 28 year old from Tokyo claimed his first PGA Tour victory on the third playoff hole over Si Woo Kim. Kodaira sank a 25 foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th to take home the tartan jacket.

"I'm not very good in playoffs, but I concentrated on every shot," Kodaira said through an interpreter. "I got the good result."

Kodaira entered the final round six shots back of the leader, but shot a five-under 66 on Sunday to enter the clubhouse at -12. From there, he watched the last few groups finish out.

Kim had a chance to earn the victory on 18, but his clinching birdie putt just burned the left edge. He tapped in for par, and headed back to the 18th tee for the sudden death playoff with Kodaira.

Both parred the 18th hole twice on the first and second playoff hole before making their way to #17. Kodaira's birdie putt was perfect, and he pumped his fist as it went in the cup. Kim's birdie attempt to extend the hole ended up just right of the hole to seal the victory for Kodaira.

The victory caps off a pair of career weeks for the Japanese native. Kodaira got into the Top 50 of the World Golf Rankings in late March, earning a last second spot in The Masters. He shot even par in Augusta to finish tied for 28th.

Not only did he win on Hilton Head Island, he earned membership on the PGA Tour.

"This is a stage I've been dreaming about," Kodaira said. "Having this opportunity to play full-time is a dream come true."

Though it was his first appearance in the RBC Heritage, the fact that Kodaira won the 50th edition of the tournament was not lost on him.

"Winning this special tournament that is 50 this year, I am very happy," he says.