Joohyung Kim man of the hour as Internationals hit US hard

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If Adam Scott has been the spiritual lead of the International Team in this week’s Presidents Cup, Joohyung Kim (left) has taken up the talisman role with his youthful exuberance, boundless energy and wild celebrations which have won over American fans at Quail Hollow. Photo: Getty Images

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Or in this instance, arise Joohyung Kim, a 20-year old baby-faced Korean rookie.

The boy who took up his English name due to a liking for Thomas the Tank Engine – a children’s locomotive cartoon character – almost single-handedly stopped the United States juggernaut in its tracks at the Presidents Cup on Saturday by starring in two massive wins for the International Team at Quail Hollow Club.

Related: Well-oiled US keep Internationals in check on four-ball day

Down 8-2 overnight following an American domination in the Foursomes and Fourball sessions, Kim, who was defeated in his opening two matches, partnered fellow debutant K.H. Lee in the third round’s Foursomes session in the morning to trounce Scottie Scheffler/Sam Burns, the World No. 1 and  No. 12 respectively, 2 and 1.

Later in the afternoon, a fiery Kim teamed up with another Korean, Si Woo Kim to pull off a tantalising 1-up victory over Patrick Cantlay/Xander Schauffele which featured breath-taking moments and shots which will be remembered for the ages, including a 10-foot winning putt at the 18th hole which sparked wild celebrations. More importantly, Kim’s heroics also put the International Team firmly back in the fight for the Presidents Cup, with the U.S. now leading 11-7 ahead of Sunday’s 12 Singles matches.

“I just told myself, I got this. I wouldn’t want anyone else to hole that putt except for myself. I really wanted it,” said Kim, whose rise to prominence on the PGA TOUR has been well documented in recent months.

Two-down through 10 holes, Kim brilliantly nailed a monstrous 54-foot eagle putt on 11 to spark a fightback and Si Woo later nailed a 22-footer birdie on 13 to tie the match. Playing the 18th hole, Kim proved he was not just an upcoming star, but a superstar in the making.

With 233 yards to the pin, he rifled a glorious 2-iron approach to set up his team’s winning birdie, which International captain Trevor Immelman could only marvel at his brilliance despite the lack of experience on golf’s biggest stage.

“He’s been such a tremendous gift to our sport,” said Immelman, himself a former Masters champion. “He’s about 240 yards out. He’s probably 60 yards behind his opponents. I look back and I see the who’s who of American golf in golf carts behind him. I see Thomas, I see Spieth, I see Finau, I see Homa, I see Morikawa, all of them sitting on carts 15 yards from him. And this kid pures a 2-iron to 10 feet and makes the putt. To me, that’s impressive stuff, shows some guts. That made my heart warm right there. So extremely proud of him.”

With Sungjae Im/Sebastian Munoz and Adam Scott/Cam Davis securing vital wins late in the day when at one point the leaderboard was dominated by red numbers favouring the U.S., Scott, a veteran of 10 Presidents Cup teams but has yet to be victorious one, believes the Internationals now has the momentum to earn a legitimate chance of stunning a powerful U.S. Team which 12 players are ranked inside the world’s top-25.

“I think over the course of my career in this, there hasn’t been many times I’ve felt momentum going our way. We certainly have it finishing this evening, and it will be great if we could keep it rolling tomorrow,” said Scott, who has contributed two points so far for the Internationals.

If Scott has been the spiritual lead of the team in this week’s Presidents Cup, Kim has taken up the talisman role with his youthful exuberance, boundless energy and wild celebrations which have won over American fans at Quail Hollow.

Kim, who won multiple times across Asia before hitting the jackpot with his victory at the Wyndham Championship on the PGA TOUR in August, said he was determined to prove a point to the Americans.

“It’s huge, especially if you beat someone like Xander and Patrick. I have huge respect for them, but I wanted them to know and I wanted the American team to know that we’re going to fight,” said Kim, who will face Max Homa in the Singles.


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“I’m just trying to bring energy to the team. So I feel like that’s the least I can do for the team. I just want to get the crowd going. We’re on American soil, and it’s not easy for us. So I’m trying to use it as my motivation and definitely using it as my energy. I’ve thrown a lot of fist pumps. It’s amazing.

“it’s an amazing feeling to be able to hole that winning putt for the team. I’ll remember this for a while.”

Schauffele, who took his Presidents Cup record to 5-3-0, said: “He played incredible golf. He beat us. He hit some incredible shots from, you know, all over the property. So, yeah, he just played better.”


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Immelman is convinced Kim can become the next big superstar in the game. “He (Tom) has an ability to be a global superstar. I know he has the game. We’ve seen he has the game. But what I’ve learned about his personality and his heart and what he stands for this week, man, I am a huge fan.”

Overall Score: United States 11, International 7

R1 (Foursomes): United States 4, International 1

R2 (Four-ball): United States 4, International 1

R3 (Foursomes): United States 2, International 2

R4 (Four-ball): International 3, United States 1