Georgia native Russell Henley booked the final spot in next week's Masters at Augusta by surging to victory in the Shell Houston Open on Sunday.
Henley shot a sizzling 7-under-par 65 in the final round to finish at 20-under-par, rolling past Kang and capturing the title in Bayou City, with the round contested in sporadic rain on the Tournament Course at the Golf Club of Houston.
But a double bogey on the tough par-3 ninth hole, on which he found the bunker off the tee and needed three putts to finish the hole once on the putting surface, dropped Henley a stroke behind the Kang, who bogeyed the hole but regained the lead.
With multiple Tour winners in Henley and fellow American Rickie Fowler hot on his heels, Kang never got going in his final round, making only two birdies, which were offset by two bogeys for an even par closing round.
"I wasn't expecting to go back to Augusta", Henley said afterwards. Only four players have won the Houston PGA Tour event and claimed the Green Jacket the next week, most recently Phil Mickelson in 2006.
Henley added one more birdie before a finishing bogey that made no difference as Kang was unable to find a birdie on the back nine. "And I started to believe it". "Wow. Yeah, then I guess it's definitely the best round (of my career)".
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"When he gets rolling with his putter, I've seen him just make everything", said caddie Todd Gjesvold.
Henley was one of several players who went through equipment changes last summer when Nike made a decision to stop making clubs, and he has since signed a full deal with Titleist.
"Russell just played great". He'll also be remembered as the final SHO champion with Shell's sponsorship ending after 26 years.
Fowler closed with a 70 and tied for third, along with Luke List (68).
Henley started Sunday behind Kang Sung-hoon but while the South Korean was timid and nervy, the American was fearless and daring.