S. H. Kim

Still, in marital bliss, Korea’s S.H. Kim intends to shine against the world’s best at this week’s US$20 million AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the second Signature event of the 2024 PGA TOUR Season.

The 25-year-old Kim is ready to start challenging for honours after clocking one full season under his belt where he posted an impressive two top-10s and seven other top-25s last season to safely retain his TOUR card.

Although he failed to earn automatic exemption into the eight Signature events in 2024, the talented Korean squeezed into the elite 80-man field this week by picking up the third to last slot available from the 2023 FedExCup Fall points list.

“This event is very special for me to participate in,” said Kim. “I wish to play steadily and give my best. I hope to finish with great scores. The cool aspect is I get to play with these talented golfers and can compete with them, which makes it more meaningful to be part of this event. It feels great and I will focus until the end.”

Great scores are certainly needed to sparkle against a top field gathered at the iconic tournament, which dates back to 1937 and has a list of past champions who include Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Tiger Woods.

The stellar field will also see Kim’s compatriots Tom Kim, Sungjae Im, Si Woo Kim and Byeong Hun An teeing up while Justin Rose will defend his title against the likes of world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, FedExCup champion Viktor Hovland and World No. 2 Rory McIlroy, who makes his 2024 PGA TOUR debut after winning the Hero Dubai Desert Classic two weeks ago on the DP World Tour.

Kim, who played a practice round with An and Si Woo Kim on Tuesday, believes a strong rookie campaign in 2023 has provided him with the foundation to start challenging for a breakthrough victory on the PGA TOUR. “I’ve got the experience of seeing and playing the golf courses out here,” said Kim, who finished T41 at last year’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. “I feel a lot more comfortable and I’m able to set up my game plan for the various courses. I just need to trust myself, trust my shots and putts to get into better positions.

“We played Pebble Beach yesterday and with the great weather and good views of the ocean, I felt comfortable. Each hole is beautiful. This will be one of the dream courses for every golfer.

“Following my long break after the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP (last October), I had about a month off for my winter break and with my wedding, I was quite busy. I didn’t have too much time to practice but I have worked hard to be ready and get my game back on track.”

Sungjae Im, the world No. 29, returns to Pebble Beach for the first time since 2019 and will be looking to replicate his sizzling form at The Sentry in Hawaii, the first Signature tournament last month, where he finished tied fifth and snared a new TOUR record by hitting an unprecedented 34 birdies during a 72-hole tournament.

“With my new record, I feel great and comfortable starting out the season. When I have good start, I feel confident throughout,” said Im, who finished T25 at The American Express and missed the cut last week at the Farmers Insurance Open.

“This course is great especially with the natural scenery. This is a big event, also a Signature event so it feels a bit different. With a new format and only the top players from the FedExCup points list getting to play, the mindset is different. The Signature event gives out more pressure which I’m able to focus better.”

The tournament will be played over two courses, Pebble Beach Golf Links and Spyglass Hill Golf Course where amateurs will compete alongside professionals the first two rounds. The competition will be limited to professionals only over the final two rounds at Pebble Beach with no 36-hole cut.

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