S.H. Kim of South Korea (Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images for The CJ Cup)

Korea’s S.H. Kim described himself as being “thrilled and very excited” ahead of his major debut at the PGA Championship which starts at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky on Thursday.

The 25-year-old Kim, who is competing in his second season on the PGA TOUR, earned his place in the year’s second major following Rory McIlroy’s victory at the Wells Fargo Championship on Sunday which allowed him to squeeze into the elite field.

He will join six other Koreans at Valhalla, including 2009 PGA Championship winner Y.E. Yang, the first Asian male major champion, Byeong Hun An, Tom Kim, Si Woo Kim, K.H. Lee and Sungjae Im. Chinese Taipei’s C.T. Pan was also a late inclusion on Monday after he got into the field for his third PGA Championship appearance following Taylor Montgomery’s withdrawal.

“Thrilled and very excited!” said Kim. “I was the first alternate on Sunday morning and I knew there were two remaining spots for the winners of Wells Fargo and Myrtle Beach, and that if any of those winners were already exempt into the PGA Championship, I would be next in line. Once it became clear that Rory was going to win in Charlotte, I felt very comfortable. Although I may have looked calm to others around me, I was extremely happy inside.”

His appearance alongside the stars of the game in a major championship is well timed as Kim is slowly finding his form again on TOUR. He posted his first top-10 of the season with a tied fourth finish at THE CJ CUP Byron Nelson two weeks ago and was equal 50th last week at the Myrtle Beach Classic.

“It will be my first time playing Valhalla and I have no information of the golf course. However, I know that PGA Championships courses are set to test your game, so I just plan to stay composed and play my own game,” said Kim, who currently ranks 91st on the FedEdxCup points list.

“I’ve gained a lot of confidence in my iron game. As long as I can maintain this, I know this will lead to good results. Composure and mental game management is key to this week’s success. If I can do that, I will minimize mistakes.”

While he is still searching for a maiden victory on the PGA TOUR, Kim will also draw confidence from his previous victories at the 2020 Korean PGA Championship and 2021 Japan PGA Championship, which signaled his growing potential in the game. He was the eighth and final qualifier for his home victory and stunned a strong field in Japan at one of the country’s leading tournaments which list of past winners include the likes of Jumbo Ozaki and Isao Aoki.

The PGA Championship holds great significance for Asian golf as Y.E. Yang made history in 2009 when he defeated a prime Tiger Woods in a toe-to-toe battle at Hazeltine to become Asia’s first male major champion.

“I started playing golf when I was 12. This was around 2009 so I don’t have any recollection on Y.E. winning the PGA Championship. However, since I have turned professional and have been playing this game for years, I now realize how big of a title this is. Y.E.’s win gave a lot of young Korean golfers including myself hope and a message that one day, any one of us can also achieve it. Y.E. has always been nice to me over the years and continues to give me advice and encourgement. I am very thankful for that,” said Kim, who has also been mentored by K.J. Choi since arriving in the U.S. to initially compete on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2022.

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