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 fully. He shall be among the many headliners on the Sentry Event 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 just a few years earlier than the household moved once more and moved all the way down to Australia so the brothers may be taught English.
After residing within the Down Underneath 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 folks within the Philippines.”
It was within the Philippines that Kim actually took up golf, initially underneath the tutelage of his father, an expert trainer. (Considerably surprisingly, Kim says their swings aren’t the identical.) The sport was accessible there, and Kim received 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Kim was too younger for the Asian Tour, and performed professionally in Thailand till he was 16 years outdated, when he didn’t move the Asian Tour qualifying college. Three fast wins on the Asian Growth Tour adopted, incomes him non permanent particular membership on the Asian Tour, the place he received 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 He was solely 17 years outdated.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-Faculty in 2021, however then once more, he did not keep lengthy. He was awarded the Korean Order of Benefit, and when the Asian Tour resumed after the COVID hiatus, he was awarded the Order of Benefit for the 2020-21 season as effectively, for entry into the 2022 US Open and Open.
His purpose was to play the Asian Tour and return to Korn Ferry Tour Q-Faculty final fall.
Because it seems, bypass that circle fully.
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 Momentary 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 all of the sudden a TOUR card-holding skilled.
“My childhood was at all times about golf,” he mentioned in Champion. “I did not actually have a life exterior of that. There have been plenty of sacrifices to do what I do now.”
making a splash
Do not anticipate 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 had been interviewed by Golf Channel’s Todd Lewis on the CJ Cup, Kim mentioned he hadn’t drank plenty of beer after any of his wins. McElroy mentioned, “Nicely, if you’re 21 and win your subsequent PGA TOUR occasion, I will get you some drinks.”
“Oh, that is nice,” Kim mentioned.
In The Hero within the Bahamas, Kim was fairly positive he wasn’t sufficiently old to be within the on line casino. Nevertheless, he was nonetheless the lifetime of the social gathering. He loved getting the prospect to speak to his favourite golf star, match host Woods, for the primary time, even when he was a little bit nervous.
“I did not actually know what to say to Tiger,” he mentioned. I advised him, We actually miss you. We actually want you had been taking part in this week. He is like, ‘Good taking part in this 12 months, 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 referred to 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 are you going to 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 had been like, ‘Is not he the nicest human being?'” That is what everybody says about him.
“He is so glad to be right here, and he loves the sport,” continued Spieth, the one participant since World Conflict II to win a Tour at a youthful age than Kim. “It is nice. It jogs my memory of the way in which I assumed once I was his age and it makes me need 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 absolutely certified to be the following world famous person,” mentioned Immelman. “He has an uncanny potential to have wonderful self-confidence however nonetheless be humble. He is like a shining mild. It makes you need to root for him. It makes you need to be round him.”
His quickness to maturity causes plenty 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 need to play in black golf sneakers as a result of it could make his ft 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 strategy 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 had 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 are actually past energetic due to Kim.
“I simply felt prefer it was a giant time for our crew to have that,” he mentioned. “We misplaced (the following day), however whoever is on this crew, going to Montreal, taking part in at dwelling, I really feel goes to present us some momentum. Beating the elite crew the way in which we did, being 1 down with three to go, successful by 1 It is a reminiscence that may final, who is aware of how lengthy.”
stability for a very long time
On the Wyndham Lodge, every thing occurred so quick he did not have time to suppose, Kim mentioned. He needed to indicate that it was no luck on the Shriners, as Cantlay, the 2021 FedExCup champion, got here unglued on the 72nd gap. Kim grew to become 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).
Today, Kim has began renting a home in Dallas, which shall 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, often known as Spieth’s coach since childhood.
What precisely Kim may do to look 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 crew – he has the work ethic to match. He is additionally cleaned up his weight loss plan, slicing 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 12 months: Oak Hill (PGA Championship), LA Nation Membership (US Open) or Royal Liverpool (Open Championship).
“I feel I do know each gap in Augusta from TV,” he mentioned. “I feel 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 really succeeded, however mentioned he can be “extra particular” within the health club. Programs in Asia have a lot narrower fairways, and he desires to really feel extra comfy hitting the ball onerous. His 240-yard strategy 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 making ready for his grasp’s diploma. His different older brother, of kinds, is Im, who’s 24 and simply married in Seoul. Then once more, the way in which 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 a must to do now could be permit Tank Engine to run.
“It is as much as me to play effectively now,” mentioned Kim. “I do know my schedule, I really feel extra comfy. 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 suppose. I am very conscious of how fortunate I’m to be taking part in the PGA Tour at 20. It is easy for folks to take issues as a right; I need to make certain I do not lose that feeling.”