As if the fledgling career of Korean teenager Joohyung Kim could not get any more exciting, this week he tees-off in the Caribbean at the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship – in the Dominican Republic.
And in what is only his third start on the PGA Tour, there is one thing he is focused on.
“It’s what I’ve learned from my past couple of events,” said Kim, at his first virtual press conference on the PGA Tour.
“I think that’s my goal this week, just play really smart, take advantage when you can, not to get too aggressive, just play my own game. And that’s always been me.”
In August, he made his debut on the PGA Tour at the PGA Championship – where he missed the cut in what was also his first appearance at a Major championship.
But two weeks ago at the Safeway Open – the opening event of the 2020/2021 season – impressively, he played all four rounds shooting 67, 72, 75 and 70 to finish in a tie for 67th on four under.
“Sometimes you get gnarly lies here and just tough pins, sometimes you just really have to take your medicine, just make a good bogey instead of like at the Safeway Open. I remember I shot five under the first round, gave myself a good chance, so kind of felt like I wanted to keep shooting under par. I went for a lot of pins which I shouldn’t have, I was playing really aggressive and I feel like sometimes you don’t need to do that,” added the Korean, who is just 18 years old.
“I feel like I was pushing myself a lot and I made a lot of soft bogeys and a lot of mistakes. I didn’t really have the week that I wanted. Even in the PGA Championship, I just kind of pushing too hard. And, you know, with the conditions, sometimes a soft bogey is okay.”
At the PGA Championship he shot rounds of 70 and 77 to miss the cut by six.
Last year, after earning a battlefield promotion from the Asian Development Tour by winning three events, the youngster made an instant impact by winning on just his third start on the Asian Tour at the Panasonic Open India.
That made him the second youngest professional to win on the Asian Tour at 17 years and 149 days, with countryman Seungyul Noh being the youngest when he won the 2008 Midea China Classic at the age of 17 years and 143 days.
When asked about his long-term ambitions in the game, the confident Korean did not beat around the bush.
“I really would love to be world number one. That has always been like a goal just because Tiger Woods was so dominant as world number one for so many years. So that has always been like a major thing for me.
“I would obviously love to play on the PGA Tour, win all four majors, be in the Golf Hall of Fame – just those big things I always would love.”
And when asked how his English name, which is Tom, came about, he replied: “Actually, it was actually Thomas. I got it from Thomas the Train [Thomas the Tank Engine television series] when I was young. As I grew older, some people started calling me Tom and I thought it was just shorter and just simpler. I think by the time I was like 11, I went just by Tom. My brother even calls me Tom. It was kind of natural. And my family calls me Tom as well, my friends all call me Tom, so it kind of came natural to me. It was that kind of a name. I had the whole thing, I had the lunchbox, I had the toys, yeah.”
This week, he has been paired in the first two rounds with Swede Carl Pettersson and Michael Gligic from Canada, at 1pm local time in the Dominican Republic.