PGA Tour: Korea’s Joohyung Kim cements rising-star status with five-shot win at Wyndham Championship
- The man they call Tom after the title character in Thomas the Tank Engine becomes second-youngest winner on Tour since WWII
- Victory lifts Kim to No 21 in the world and earns him right to play in FedEx Cup play-offs which start this week
Korea’s Joohyung “Tom” Kim announced his arrival on the PGA Tour and cemented his rising star status in the process following an emphatic five-shot victory at the Wyndham Championship on Sunday.
At age 20 years, 1 month and 17 days, Kim became the second-youngest winner since the Second World War and the first born in the 2000s to win on the Tour after he closed with a stunning final round of 9-under 61 to finish on 20-under overall.
After starting the tournament with a quadruple bogey – Kim is the first player since records began in 1983 to make a quadruple or worse on the first hole and go on to win – he has now qualified for the FedEx Cup Playoffs which start this week. Last Sunday, he secured enough FedEx Cup points as a to earn his Tour card for the 2022-23 season.
“It’s crazy,” Kim said. “I mean, I’ve never won a golf tournament starting with a quad and here we are. I played great this week. It was hard to stay in the moment in the final round just knowing that I was so close, but I never let my guard down until I holed that putt on 18.”
Kim returned early on Sunday to complete the remaining eight holes of the weather-disrupted third round with a 68 and trailed third-round leader, Im by two. Nicknamed Tom after Thomas the Tank Engine, Kim charged out like a bullet train in the final round, shooting six birdies and an eagle for an outward 27 to take full control of the tournament which was the final event of the regular season.
Victory also moves Kim to No. 21 in the world rankings and has put himself in position for a spot on the International Team for the Presidents Cup against the US at Quail Hollow next month.
“It’s been a hectic month and a lot of things have changed, for sure,” Kim said.
“I’ve expected so much of myself and so does my team, we expect the highest. And it hasn’t been the easiest. It might look easy for a lot of people, but it’s a lot of work behind the scenes just from the manager doing so much beyond for me and my family who put in sacrifices.
“This is just a start for me and I still have so much I want to accomplish and this is just – I bought the car, we bought the car, we just need to drive it, so hopefully I keep pushing that pedal.”
Kim said securing his Tour card last week in Detroit had given him the freedom to freewheel his game at the Wyndham Championship, where he became the third Korean winner of the event following K.J. Choi in 2005 and Si Woo Kim in 2016. He is also the ninth Korean to win on Tour.
“I told myself just have fun, enjoy it, you’ve got your card already, just enjoy every single moment and don’t get too intense,” Kim said. “But this back nine was crazy, it was probably the most intense round I’ve played. My putter felt like 200 pounds today, I’m not going to lie, it was crazy.”
Sungjae Im and John Huh finished in a tie for second, and while Im was disappointed to fall short, the result second earned him a place in the Tour top 10 and a US$1 million bonus pay out. He also took his hat off to Kim, who he had played a practice round with at the start of the week.
“I missed a few clutch putts on the front nine which got me to a bad start, but overall I’m happy with the tie for second finish,” Im said. “I’m really, really happy for Tom. He’s a great kid and to come out here and to win on Tour as a non-member and secure your card is really not an easy task and he achieved that. I’m really proud of him.”