Kurt Kitayama had to two-putt from 47ft to win his first ever PGA Tour event and he so nearly rolled it in to produce what would be yet another iconic moment on the 18th green at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
His putt somehow stopped short of the hole to leave him a literal tap-in to win, and golf fans on social media went wild after he decided to place a coin behind his ball and mark it. His TaylorMade TP5x, marked with two Ks, was hanging on the edge of the hole and he decided to wait a little longer before officially sealing the victory.
It’s tradition that the winner usually likes to wait until their playing partners are finished before tapping in for victory but fans were expecting Kitayama to go and tap his putt in and wait for playing partner Viktor Hovland to finish out before celebrating the win.
However, he instead opted to leave his marker around an inch away from the hole to let the moment sink in before tapping in for his first ever PGA Tour victory and a check of $3.6m.
“When I marked it and walked over to Tim [his caddie] and just, like, a big sigh of relief, really, you know, that this was really happening,” Kitayama said.
Following his putt coming up just short, fans were quick to post the images on social media, with No Laying Up saying: “Straight to the #TourSauce museum”.
Here’s how social media reacted:
Straight to the #TourSauce museum @MuseeLouvre pic.twitter.com/rDnlnzgRmlMarch 5, 2023
I love that Kurt marked that last putt! What an amazing win, so many possibilities yet Kurt came out on top against a lot of the best in the world. Arnies place always produces that tension down the stretch @APinv Congrats @Kurt_Kitayama 🏆March 6, 2023
“In your life have you ever seen anything like that…” pic.twitter.com/z6qXoh28zwMarch 5, 2023
He’s not in yet 😅 pic.twitter.com/a0JT051KcaMarch 5, 2023
Kitayama may or may not play @TaylorMadeGolf TP5X 🤣Congrats Kurt on your first @PGATOUR win! 🤙🏼 pic.twitter.com/a6eVWsdgW9March 5, 2023
Now that’s the length of putt you want to win!! Congrats @Kurt_Kitayama pic.twitter.com/DVVnDxgXNFMarch 5, 2023
The victory was Kitayama’s fourth professional win, after two DP World Tour triumphs and one on the Asian Development Tour. His win also earned him a spot in this year’s Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.
He moves to a career-high 19th in the Official World Golf Ranking.
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