(LEAD) S. Korean rookie Kim Seong-hyeon finishes runner-up at PGA Tour fall event

South Korean rookie Kim Seong-hyeon finished in second place in the first stop of the annual PGA Tour fall series.

Kim shot 19-under 269 to take the runner-up spot at the Fortinet Championship at Silverado Resort's North Course in Napa, California, on Sunday (local time), finishing two strokes behind the winner, Sahith Theegala of the United States.

This was Kim's best performance on the PGA Tour and only his second career top-10 finish after a fourth-place showing at the Shriners Children's Open in October 2022.

In 29 events after that, Kim had missed 12 cuts without a top-10 performance.

The FedEx Cup Fall will feature seven tournaments, with only those who finished outside the top 50 in FedEx Cup points at the end of the playoffs last month eligible to collect points in the fall events.

At the end of the fall tournaments, golfers inside the top 125 in points will earn their PGA Tour cards for next year.

Kim started the week in 83rd place, and the runner-up in Napa should be able to keep him inside the top 125.

Kim shot in the 60s in all four rounds, with Theegala being the only other player to achieve that feat at the Fortinet Championship. Kim opened with a seven-under 65, and followed up with rounds of 67, 69 and 68.

In the final round, Kim had parred his first nine holes and picked up four birdies on the back nine.

"This has been the longest week of my career," Kim said afterward. "I tried to stay tough mentally and keep positive thoughts in my mind. I played the way I wanted to play through the end, and I am satisfied with the result."

Kim played the third round with former world No. 1 Justin Thomas, a two-time major champion. Kim admitted to feeling some nerves when he found out he was paired with the American star. Thomas finished in fifth place at 15-under but shot a 65, four strokes better than Kim, in the third round.

"After playing the first couple of holes, I was able to relax and get into my own pace," Kim said. "Justin complimented me on some of my shots. He's such a great player, and I could see how someone like him is in a different class than the other guys. I will try hard to catch up."

Kim, who turned 25 on Sunday, first earned his PGA Tour membership last year by finishing 12th in the points standings during the regular season of the developmental Korn Ferry Tour. After each season, the top 25 players in the Korn Ferry Tour points grab their PGA Tour cards for the following campaign. Kim was one of two South Koreans to reach the big tour via that route this fall, joining former PGA Tour veteran An Byeong-hun. Kim was also the 2022 Korn Ferry Tour's Rookie of the Year.

Source: Yonhap News Agency