Korea’s rising star Tom Kim is unable to defend his Wyndham Championship title this week due to an ankle injury but his stunning comeback from a quadruple bogey a year ago will serve as an inspiration to other Asian hopefuls.
The 21-year-old Kim withdrew from his title defence at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina to recuperate from an ankle injury sustained during The Open Championship at Royal Liverpool where he finished an impressive tied second two weeks ago.
With the lucrative FedExCup Playoffs, comprising of three bumper events, starting next week, Kim, who is currently ranked 14th on the points list, intends to be fully fit in his quest to challenge for the PGA TOUR’s ultimate prize which no Asian golfer has won previously.
Kim said: “I am deeply saddened to not be able to be at Greensboro and defend my title at the Wyndham Championship. It was my first win on the PGA TOUR and it is very frustrating as a player to not be there competing. Due to the tear on my ankle, I have not fully recovered and have been told by my doctors and coaches to be rested before I go out and compete again.”
Aside from Kim, compatriots Si Woo Kim (18th), Sungjae Im (36th), Byeong Hun An (52nd) and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama (56th) are virtually assured of a spot in next week’s FedEx St. Jude Championship, which is limited to the top-70. The Playoffs will the head to the BMW Championship for the top-50 before concluding with the TOUR Championship which will see the top-30 vying for the FedExCup.
This week’s final event of the Regular Season is the last chance for the likes of K.H. Lee (73rd), S.H. Kim (78th), Kevin Yu (94th), C.T. Pan (120th) and Marty Zecheng Dou (123rd) to force their way into next week’s FedEx St. Jude Championship. It may prove to be an uphill task for some but Kim’s victory last year will remind many that anything is possible.
“It’s the last chance to qualify for the Playoffs. I hope to play 100% to my strength and squeeze into the Playoffs,” said Kevin Yu, who has posted three top-10s in his rookie season including a T6 at the John Deere Classic last month.
“I think the mentality is very important. Don’t just think about making the Playoffs. I’ll aim to keep a normal mindset, and perform well in each shot,” added the 24-year-old who requires a two-way tie for third place or better to have a chance of breaking into the top-70.
Tom Kim was certainly the epitome that a golf tournament is a marathon, and not a sprint when he secured a superb five-shot victory with a closing 9-under 61. He had opened the tournament with a quadruple bogey in the first round but showed his character and resilience by hanging on in the tournament, and subsequently winning in style.
He spoke about the mentality that Yu referenced.
“I think for me that week was just I was very, very calm,” said Kim.
“I just got my (TOUR) card the week before and I was so happy that nothing could really faze me. The start obviously wasn’t the best … you like better starts than a quad. But for some reason, I just wasn’t flustered. I was just thinking about the present. I wasn’t thinking about anything else, I wasn’t thinking about winning, I wasn’t thinking about playing well. I was just trying to take it one shot after one shot. I think for me, it was a big step to my career,” added the young Korean, who went on to win the Shriners Children’s Open in Las Vegas in October in addition to five other top-10s this season.