INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) — K.J. Choi holed an 11-foot birdie putt worth $270,000 on the 18th hole Sunday to win the 26th Skins Game with $415,000.
Stephen Ames missed a nine-footer that would have tied the hole and forced the foursome including Phil Mickelson and Rocco Mediate into a playoff.
Instead, Choi’s putt gave him $340,000 for Sunday’s nine holes and made him the fifth international player to win the title.
“I’m very proud to have won the Skins Game, the first time ever for a Korean player,” said Choi, who said he watched the Skins Game and the Masters growing up in South Korea. “I’m very, very happy today.”
Stephen Ames, looking for a third consecutive title in the event, won $250,000 on the first hole of the day with a birdie to finish second. Mickelson was third with $195,000, while Mediate earned his $140,000 with a birdie on the 16th hole.
It is just the seventh time that all four players in the event have won money.
“I thought it was a good day. Everyone was able to win a skin today,” Mickelson said. “It was a fun few days. We all would have liked to have gotten the last skin. I just didn’t make the putts. I though Stephen and I each had putts to carry over some skins.”
Choi started the day with the lead but fell behind Ames on the first hole. Mickelson won $170,000 on the par-4 13th with a tap-in birdie. Choi added $70,000 with a four-foot eagle putt on the 14th hole.
Mediate, frustrated when his long birdie putts were tied by other players three times over the two days, finally broke through with a three-foot birdie putt on the par-3 16th for his $140,000. Again, Ames missed a six-footer that could have tied the hole and carried the money over.
On the 18th, all four players hit the green, but Mediate and Mickelson missed putts from about 11 feet, while Choi made his uphill birdie putt. Putting down the same hill, Ames’ putt slipped to the right, giving Choi the title.