PGA Tour: K.H. Lee’s late surge gives Asia a record 3 golfers in Tour Championship
- South Korea’s Lee missed FedExCup Playoffs last year but his finish at BMW Championship seals spot alongside countryman Sungjae Im and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama
- Joohyung Kim bows out, but the 20-year-old earns a place in the International Team for the Presidents Cup – the second-youngest ever to do so
Asian golf celebrated a record three players advancing into the Tour Championship following a final-day flourish by South Korea’s K.H. Lee, who finished tied fifth at the BMW Championship.
Lee was heartbroken after missing the FedExCup Playoffs by one rung last season, but a six-under 65 on Sunday means he will join countryman Sungjae Im and Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, where the top 30 will battle for the PGA Tour’s ultimate prize.
Rising star Joohyung Kim failed to extend his dream run after finishing tied 54th at the BMW Championship to bow out of the Playoffs – dropping from 25th to 33rd in the standings.
But it was still a day to remember for the 20-year-old, who sealed a debut appearance for the International Team who will face the United States in the Presidents Cup next month.
The 24-year-old Im qualified for his fourth successive Tour Championship, coming 10th in the FedExCup standings, and a second Presidents Cup appearance, while eight-time PGA Tour winner Matsuyama (17th in the FedExCup) earned his ninth successive Tour Championship and fifth Presidents Cup appearances.
Lee missed the International Team by one rung and will now rely on being a captain’s pick. He was, however, relieved to qualify for the Tour Championship after improving from 33rd to 26th position in the final day of qualifying.
“Honestly a lot of pressure this week,” Lee said. “Last year I finished 31st, so I didn’t want to be in the same spot this year. I mean, 31st is a really cruel spot.”
The 30-year-old opened with four successive birdies at Wilmington Country Club before swapping one more birdie against a bogey on the 10th hole then finishing strongly with birdies on 16 and 17.
Lee will start the Tour Championship in 26th place at even par in the staggered tournament based on FedExCup positions following the BMW Championship. He will be 10 shots behind current leader Scottie Scheffler, who regained his No 1 spot with a tied-third finish on Sunday.
Im will start on four under while Matsuyama begins at two under.
Kim, whose rapid rise has included a win at the Wyndham Championship two weeks ago, will be the second-youngest International Team player in the Presidents Cup after Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa, in 2009 and 2011.
“It’s crazy,” he said. “I can’t really believe I’ll be playing in the Presidents Cup. It’s something I’ve dreamed of since I was a kid.
“I didn’t really think that this year I’d be able to play. I was pretty far away, and the last couple of months that has really changed.”
The other automatic qualifiers for the International Team are Cameron Smith, Joaquin Niemann, Corey Conners, Adam Scott and Mito Pereira, while Patrick Cantlay, Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele, Sam Burns, Scottie Scheffler and Tony Finau have qualified for the US.
Trevor Immelman will make four captain’s picks early next month, while his US counterpart Davis Love III will pick six players.