Korean teenager Joohyung Kim, one of the most exciting young players in world golf, is facing two of the most important weeks of his fledgling career as he bids to win the Asian Tour Order of Merit title.
The 19-year-old star in the making competes in The Singapore International, which starts Thursday at Tanah Merah Country Club, and next week’s 2020-21 season-ending SMBC Singapore Open sitting in third place on the Merit list but with every chance of reaching the summit first.
Australian Wade Ormsby leads the Merit list, while Phachara Khwongwatmai from Thailand is second, but Kim is just over US$30,000 behind Ormsby.
“It’s a great chance [to win the Order of Merit]. Two big events, two last big events so hopefully I’ll get a chance this week and play well enough to give me a chance next week as well,” said Kim.
The Korean is the highest ranked player on the Official World Golf Ranking in the field in 132nd place and finished joint second and equal seventh in the two Asian Tour events played in Phuket at the end of last year that preceded this Singapore swing.
“I guess I have just been keeping the competitive fire. I’ve played a lot of events last year and I just kept on playing and I worked hard on my game, and I knew my game really well, so hopefully I can do that second and top 10 again these two weeks,” he added.
Kim hit the headlines in 2019 when after earning a battlefield promotion from the Asian Development Tour by claiming three events, the teen titan made an instant impact by winning in just his third start on the Asian Tour at the Panasonic Open in India.
“Actually, I took some time off right after Phuket,” said the Korean, who is known as Tom ‒ a result of loving to watch Thomas the Tank Engine when growing up.
“I stayed a week in Thailand with the family and got back to Korea. Got back to Korea, got out of quarantine. It’s actually pretty cold so it’s really nice to be out in Singapore with a shirt on and some nice heat. My game’s kind of rusty but I’m just trying to get it dialled in before Thursday.”
This week marks the first time the Tampines Course has hosted a major international tournament since its revamp in 2018 and the course has received rave reviews by players.
Kim added: “I first took a look yesterday for nine holes and the course with the wind and the layout in general. I feel like it’s going to be tough for all the players this week.
You really have to take advantage when you can and really stick to the game plan for all 18 holes. There’s not really much escape on this course, so you need to get dialled in and I’m looking forward to it.”