Korean star Si Woo Kim is keen to launch a title tilt at The Open Championship at Royal Liverpool this week following a three-week break, saying his game has been the most consistent it has ever been this season.
The four-time PGA TOUR winner will make his fifth appearance in the year’s final major where a career best tied 15th at St Andrews last year injected added belief that he can challenge the world’s best.
With his batteries recharged in preparation for a busy run up to the FedExCup Playoffs next month, the 28-year-old Kim currently sits in 13th place on the FedExCup points list following one win and four top-10s but is eyeing more success.
“This is the most consistent year, I think, for me. Only missed cuts in a few events, and made a lot of cuts,” said Kim, who has earned over US$4.8 million this season which is already a career high since making his TOUR debut in 2016.
Kim is particularly happy with improvements with his iron play where he is ranked 24th in Strokes Gained: Approach to Green. His best performance in the stat category was previously 84th during the 2019-20 campaign and he credited swing coach Chris Como for his stellar season thus far.
“My iron play is more consistent now compared to the last few years. Hitting more greens and less percentage to make bogey. That’s why it’s helped,” Kim explained. “I’ve been working on my irons, step by step. A couple of years ago, I wasn’t quite ready for great ball-striking and I’ve been trying to build it up with my coach and it’s been helpful since I started to work full time with him this year.”
While Kim has won THE PLAYER Championship in 2017, which is often regarded as a tournament with the deepest field in the game, he knows very well that winning a major is a different challenge. No Asian golfer has won The Open, with Chinese Taipei’s Lu Liang-huang coming close by finishing runner-up to Lee Trevino in 1971.
Kim, winner of the Sony Open in Hawaii in January, thinks The Open provides a good chance for players like him to challenge for major glory.
“Always hard to win a major. These guys hit it far but I think there’s a chance for Asian players on this kind of golf course as we don’t have to hit it far. It’s more course management and short game. I think I can have more of a chance to win here than a U.S. Open or PGA Championship. Links course is more doable,” said Kim. “I always like to play on links courses. Love to play the low trajectory shots. Everything feels great now. Feeling fresh and body is feeling good.”
Kim will be joined by compatriots Sungjae Im, Tom Kim, K.H. Lee, Kyung Nam Kang, Bio Kim and Byeong Hun An, who finished tied third in last week’s Genesis Scottish Open to secure a start at The Open. An, who played in The Open at Royal Liverpool in 2014, had switched to the broomstick putter recently after seeking Kim’s advice.
“All the Korean players are pushing each other and I think that helps us to play better,” said Kim. “I don’t know, if he (An) follows me. I’m happy for him. Maybe I’ll take 3 percent (of his winnings)!” he laughed.