Why driver off the deck was the safe play for Si Woo Kim en route to AmEx win

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LA QUINTA, Calif. – The shot that helped Si Woo Kim win The American Express wasn’t as fearless as it may have appeared.

Clinging to a share of the lead, Kim was 288 yards from the green at the par-5 11th hole when he pulled out his driver. To some observers it seemed like an overly bold shot considering how crowded the leaderboard was, but the 25-year-old was actually going with the smart play.

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“Every day [he hits that shot],” Kim’s caddie, Brian Vranesh, said. “He was more confident with that shot because his 3-wood can flip left [toward a water hazard], but once we got it running we knew it would be close to the green.”

Kim’s second shot bounced just short and right of the green and he calmly chipped to 6 feet for a birdie that moved him one shot clear of the field.

“I tried to keep it safe, so that’s why I didn’t hit the 3-wood and then I tried to use the mound on the right side, so that’s why I hit the driver off the deck there,” said Kim, who closed with a bogey-free 64 for a one-stroke victory over Patrick Cantlay.