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Michael Kim Wins John Deere Classic In Historic Fashion

Benjamin Payne
2018 John Deere Classic champion Michael Kim

What the John Deere Classic lacked in suspense, it more than made up for in history.

Cruising to a victory with an eight-stroke lead over four second-place finishers, 25-year-old California native Michael Kim made ckear to spectators and opponents alike on Sunday that there would be no nail-biter finish to the four-day tournament at TPC Deere Run in Silvis.

In doing so, Kim secured not only the top spot in the 2018 leaderboard, but also the top spot in the tournament's 47-year history: his 27-under par was just enough to break Steve Stricker's record (set in 2010) by one stroke.

"It's been a relatively tough, stressful year coming into the week," said Kim after the tournament. "To be honest, I was just trying to fight for a job for next year and hopefully get into that first playoff event. Just super excited for the rest of the season, and I think I made the right career choice."

Even with a comfortable lead after Kim finished the third round on Saturday, he says he still only got four hours of sleep that night.

"I was nervous the entire night, just trying to get my heartbeat to slow down," said Kim. "Just looking up on the internet 'how to slow your heart rate down,' and all it tells you is to take deep breaths. Well, I've been taking deep breaths for like 30 minutes and it ain't slowing down!"

Kim also set a John Deere Classic record for largest margin of victory. His eight-stroke difference topped South African golfer David Frost's seven-stroke lead in 1993.

The victory comes with a $1,044,000 check and a guaranteed berth in the British Open, which begins July 19 in Scotland.

Raised in San Diego but born in Seoul, South Korea, Kim is the first foreign-born John Deere Classic champion since 2006, when Australian golfer John Senden won.