He was charming when he putt an iron from 240 yards 2 and rolled right into a ground-shaking birdie putt to maintain hope alive for the Internationals on the Presidents Cup in September. He was humble after not being a bogey all week and bested Patrick Cantlay on the Shriners Children Open in Las Vegas in October.
Youth, expertise, googly presidents trophy glasses—Kim has all of it, a present from the Golf Gods that appears to have fallen from the sky utterly. He will likely be among the many headliners on the Sentry Match of Champions this week.
product of the world
Born in Korea to father Changik Lee and mom Kwangju Kim, Kim and his older brother, Gaouk Kim, moved to China for a couple of years earlier than the household moved once more and moved right down to Australia so the brothers may study English.
After residing within the Down Beneath for seven years, the household moved once more.
Kim mentioned, “As soon as we discovered English, we moved to the Philippines as a result of Australia was a bit costly, and we knew individuals within the Philippines.”
It was within the Philippines that Kim actually took up golf, initially beneath the tutelage of his father, knowledgeable instructor. (Considerably surprisingly, Kim says their swings aren’t the identical.) The sport was accessible there, and Kim bought into homeschooling. With designs to play the Asian Tour, he and his household moved once more, this time to Thailand, which was extra appropriate for journey functions. He turned skilled on the age of 15.
Kim was too younger for the Asian Tour, and performed professionally in Thailand till he was 16 years outdated, when he did not cross the Asian Tour qualifying college. Three fast wins on the Asian Improvement Tour adopted, incomes him short-term particular membership on the Asian Tour, the place he gained on his second begin. He was solely 17 years outdated. And simply as spectacular, he was fluent in Tagalog, English, and Korean.
Kim speaks Korean to his mother and father, and English to his brother. He says he goals in each languages.
These goals are but to return true, he missed a shot on the Korn Ferry Tour Q-College in 2021, however then once more, he did not keep lengthy. He was awarded the Korean Order of Advantage, and when the Asian Tour resumed after the COVID hiatus, he was awarded the Order of Advantage for the 2020-21 season as properly, for entry into the 2022 US Open and Open.
His objective was to play the Asian Tour and return to Korn Ferry Tour Q-College final fall.
Because it seems, bypass that circle totally.
The quantum leap got here not when he completed twenty third on the US Open, however when he completed third on the Genesis Scottish Open in July. After ending T47 at The Open, he joined the PGA TOUR as a Particular Short-term Member. His T26 on the 3M Open and solo seventh on the Rocket Mortgage Basic preceded his life-changing victory at Windham.
Kim, the primary Tour winner born after 2000, is immediately a TOUR card-holding skilled.
“My childhood was at all times about golf,” he mentioned in Champion. “I did not actually have a life outdoors of that. There have been a variety of sacrifices to do what I do now.”
making a splash
Do not count on a booze-fuelled celebration when Kim turns 21.
He mentioned, “I am not a heavy drinker.” “I’ve by no means tried alcohol.”
When Kim and McIlroy have been interviewed by Golf Channel’s Todd Lewis on the CJ Cup, Kim mentioned he hadn’t drank a variety of beer after any of his wins. McElroy mentioned, “Effectively, whenever you’re 21 and win your subsequent PGA TOUR occasion, I am going to get you some drinks.”
“Oh, that is nice,” Kim mentioned.
In The Hero within the Bahamas, Kim was fairly certain he wasn’t sufficiently old to be within the on line casino. Nonetheless, he was nonetheless the lifetime of the social gathering. He loved getting the possibility to speak to his favourite golf star, event host Woods, for the primary time, even when he was just a little nervous.
“I did not actually know what to say to Tiger,” he mentioned. I instructed him, We actually miss you. We actually want you have been enjoying this week. He is like, ‘Good enjoying this yr, and congrats.'”
The following day, Kim, Woods, Justin Thomas, Max Homma, Matt Fitzpatrick, Billy Hurschel, and Tommy Fleetwood miced their so-called champion shot, a distance of about 85 yards to the floating bullseye. Kim was so decided to win that at one level he known as for a video replay, and when he completed second to Fitzpatrick, his head was in his fingers as if smashed. I felt like he was solely half joking.
“I imply, how will you not love Tom Kim?” mentioned Spieth, who was sharing the house together with his spouse Annie, their son Sammy and Justin Thomas, and his spouse Jill. “We use the identical physicist, and he labored in the home we’re staying in, and when he left, Annie and Jill have been like, ‘Is not he the nicest human being?'” That is what everybody says about him.
“He is so joyful to be right here, and he loves the sport,” continued Spieth, the one participant since World Struggle II to win a Tour at a youthful age than Kim. “It is nice. It jogs my memory of the best way I believed once I was his age and it makes me wish to return to considering that method.”
It’s his enthusiasm that makes Kim so engaging. Within the Champions locker room, Spieth requested him about meals in Japan, the place Kim completed fourth at Dunlop Phoenix in late November. Laurie threw within the towel. Little question others seen him and considered a model of, Oh, to have his future.
“Tom Kim is totally certified to be the following world famous person,” mentioned Immelman. “He has an uncanny capacity to have wonderful self-confidence however nonetheless be humble. He is like a shining gentle. It makes you wish to root for him. It makes you wish to be round him.”
His quickness to maturity causes a variety of that, however do not underestimate his humorousness.
When he wasn’t thrilled to be photographed on the Presidents Trophy, Kim would in the reduction of and lighten the temper. First, he stored coming out his team-issued denims and laughing as his teammates jeered. Then he mentioned he did not wish to play in black golf sneakers as a result of it will make his toes too scorching. Then there have been Kim’s goofy glasses with piercing eyes.
“Oh, yeah, I stored these glasses,” he mentioned.
Ask him to pinpoint his most indelible second and he pointed a 240-yard 2-iron method and a 10-foot birdie hit to present him and Si Woo Kim a 1-up victory over Cantlay and Xander Schauffele in a four-ball match late Saturday afternoon. The remainder of the matches have been full, so Kim threw this bolt not solely to his colleagues, but additionally to the American golfer. The Internationals, who fell behind 10-4 that morning, have now minimize the margin to 11-7 in singles, however are nonetheless behind however at the moment are past energetic due to Kim.
“I simply felt prefer it was a giant time for our workforce to have that,” he mentioned. “We misplaced (the following day), however whoever is on this workforce, going to Montreal, enjoying at residence, I really feel goes to present us some momentum. Beating the elite workforce the best way we did, being 1 down with three to go, profitable by 1 This can be a reminiscence that may final, who is aware of how lengthy.”
stability for a very long time
On the Wyndham Resort, every part occurred so quick he did not have time to assume, Kim mentioned. He wished to point out that it was no luck on the Shriners, as Cantlay, the 2021 FedExCup champion, got here unglued on the 72nd gap. Kim turned solely the second participant since Lee Trevino in 1974 to win the TOUR with out making a bogey or worse (JT Poston did that Additionally at Windham 2019).
As of late, Kim has began renting a home in Dallas, which will likely be his US base. He can return to Korea continuous and is centrally situated for tour play. He’ll practice out of the Dallas Nationwide and Trinity Forest, giving him loads of time to rub elbows with stars like Spieth, Will Zlatoris, and former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. Kim has been working with Cameron McCormick, referred to as Spieth’s coach since childhood.
What precisely Kim would possibly do to seem at 23 is a tantalizing prospect.
“It is superb,” mentioned Immelman. “He has an amazing quantity of expertise.”
And like his compatriots – Kim, Si Woo Kim, Sungjae Im and KH Lee made up a 3rd of the Worldwide Presidents’ Cup workforce – he has the work ethic to match. He is additionally cleaned up his weight loss program, chopping again if not eliminating Del Taco, Taco Bell, and Chick-fil-A.
Granted, Kim has some programs to check, as a result of he is by no means performed TPC Sawgrass, the Augusta Nationwide, or the opposite main programs of the yr: Oak Hill (PGA Championship), LA Nation Membership (US Open) or Royal Liverpool (Open Championship).
“I believe I do know each gap in Augusta from TV,” he mentioned. “I believe Jason Dufner was the final winner at Oak Hill?” (Kim was 11 years outdated.) As for different runs, veteran sack sack Joe Skofron, former sacking Rickie Fowler, ought to assist him fill within the gaps.
Kim truly succeeded, however mentioned he could be “extra particular” within the fitness center. Programs in Asia have a lot narrower fairways, and he needs to really feel extra snug hitting the ball arduous. His 240-yard method on Quail Hole – he admitted he stalled his lead within the wind, leaving him behind Si Woo, Cantlay and Schauffele – was insanely spectacular, however most likely unrepeatable.
His brother, who’s 5 years his senior, simply graduated from the military and is getting ready for his grasp’s diploma. His different older brother, of types, is Im, who’s 24 and simply married in Seoul. Then once more, the best way everybody’s taken for Kim, he has huge brothers in Laurie and McIlroy and up and down the tour. He has a house. All it’s important to do now’s enable Tank Engine to run.
“It is as much as me to play properly now,” mentioned Kim. “I do know my schedule, I really feel extra snug. It is as much as me to begin working. There are such a lot of methods I can enhance.
“I am nonetheless a child round these guys,” he continued. “I am curious what they’re doing, how they assume. I am very conscious of how fortunate I’m to be enjoying the PGA Tour at 20. It is easy for individuals to take issues as a right; I wish to make sure that I do not lose that feeling.”