Joohyung Kim after historic first at Tour Championship

Joohyung Kim - TheGolfingHub
As World No. 16, Joohyung Kim enters the final week backed by some stellar form, having finished T6, T2, T24 and T10 in his last four starts. (Photo by Ben Jared/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

Korean star Joohyung Kim tees up in his maiden TOUR Championship on Thursday knowing very well anything can happen in sport as he chases for a slice of golf history in the FedExCup Playoffs Finale.

The 21-year-old Kim will be joined by countrymen Sungjae Im and Si Woo Kim, the first time three Koreans have qualified for the elite 30-man field, at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta as they bid to become Asia’s first ever winner in the FedExCup since the inauguration in 2007.

Related: Sungjae Im, So Woo Kim take different paths to Tour Championship

A victory for Tom, which will be worth US$18 million, will also make him the youngest champion of the PGA TOUR’s ultimate prize, surpassing Jordan Spieth who was triumphant at age 22 years and 2 months in 2015. Im came closest to lifting the FedEdxCup when he finished runner-up to Rory McIlroy last season.


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The Korean trio will begin the first round on 2-under and eight strokes back of top-ranked Scottie Scheffler in the staggered-start format based on players’ rankings after the conclusion of last week’s BMW Championship. Scheffler starts the TOUR Championship at 10-under for the second straight year, followed by last week’s winner Viktor Hovland (8-under), McIlroy (7-under) and Jon Rahm (6-under).

Tom doesn’t need a reminder that come-from-behind wins are always on the cards.

“I think it’s always possible. It’s eight strokes off, and there are a lot of great players out there who can win anytime, and I think I’m also in that position. I just think if I don’t get pain (in his right ankle) and hit the ball well, I always have a chance,” said Tom, who suffered a sprained ankle at The Open last month.

“I want to do my best and put everything into this tournament because it’s my last week of the season. I want to play without regrets this week. That is my goal.”


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The talented young Korean needs to only look back at how he claimed his maiden PGA TOUR title for inspiration. At last season’s Wyndham Championship, Tom opened with a quadruple bogey but amazingly fought back to a stunning five-shot triumph after a closing 9-under 61. It made him the second-youngest winner on TOUR since World War II.

Interestingly, when McIlroy prevailed for a record third FedExCup success 12 months ago, the Northern Irishman started with a triple bogey and bogey before edging Scheffler and Im by a single stroke. McIlroy credited Tom for not throwing in the towel although he was 10 off the lead early in the first round. “He (Tom) started with a quad and ended up going on to win the golf tournament,” McIlroy said. “It is possible.”

Tom laughed when asked if he got a cut from McIlroy’s winnings last year. “I actually didn’t ask a percentage of Rory’s prize money,” he smiled.

As the World No. 16, Tom enters the final week backed by some stellar form, having finished T6, T2, T24 and T10 in his last four starts. It includes low rounds of 66 and 63 last weekend. Following a second TOUR title at the Shriners Children’s Open last October and seven other top-10s during the 2022-23 season, the youngster said he was happy to check his main goal but had mixed feelings as well.


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“My biggest goal was to make it to the TOUR Championship. I didn’t make it last year, so I’m very happy to be playing for the first time,” he said. “To be honest, I didn’t feel like I played as well as I wanted to. I wasn’t in contention for a title as I much as I wanted to. I’m trying to stay positive because I still have a long way to go and a lot to learn.

“I won a title this season, but it wasn’t achieved this year, and it was about 10 months ago. However, I also had some good results in the majors, finishing 16th in the Masters, 8th in the U.S. Open and 2nd in The Open, so it’s a positive thing I gained confidence and comfort in the majors.

“Golf is a sport that is judged on results, so I’m disappointed I didn’t win this year but I feel I learned a lot and I’m more mature. I would give myself a score of 20 (out of 100) because I didn’t win, and I would still give myself a score of 50 or 60 because I gained experience and made improvements.”