Kim’s No Kid

22-year-old aims to be­come first re­peat cham­pion at TPC Saw­grass

Golf Asia - - GOLFING PROFILE - TEXT COUR­TESY OF PGA TOUR

Nostal­gia lit­ters the cham­pi­ons' din­ing room at TPC Saw­grass, where framed por­traits of Si Woo Kim adorn dark wood walls and me­men­toes of his high­est achieve­ment sit proudly atop man­tel­pieces.

Fond memories of the 22-year-old's tri­umph at THE PLAY­ERS Cham­pi­onship re­main fresh in­side the doors to this exclusive room, not far from the Sta­dium Course, where he won the event in stun­ning fash­ion last May. The memories all came rush­ing back to the South Korean when he re­turned ear­lier this spring to the site of his win. “It's my first time (com­ing back) since lift­ing up the tro­phy last year,” he said. “Com­ing back to this course has been so amaz­ing. To see my pic­tures up on the wall, to drive up to this course, it brings back a lot of memories.”

Kim was the youngest win­ner in PLAY­ERS' his­tory when he captured the 2017 event at age 21. But he doesn't look much like a pupil these days. He's back at the Ponte Ve­dra Beach, Fla., club on this day to un­veil his sig­na­ture TPC Saw­grass menu item - Korean bar­beque short ribs and do­nate his cham­pi­onship-win­ning driver to the club, along­side other past win­ners' clubs like Jack Nick­laus, Phil Mick­el­son and Tiger Woods.

Now, the two-time PGA TOUR win­ner looks ev­ery bit the part of a sea­soned vet­eran. “My first win at (the 2016) Wyn­d­ham (Cham­pi­onship), I was ac­tu­ally very ner­vous, be­cause I didn't have any ex­pe­ri­ence win­ning,” he re­called. “But en­ter­ing PLAY­ERS, I was go­ing for my sec­ond win, so I felt a lit­tle more com­fort­able in that sense. But go­ing into that sea­son, I was bat­tling back in­jury, and I was feel­ing ner­vous just be­ing at the fifth ma­jor.”

That nag­ging back in­jury was merely one part of Kim's chal­leng­ing ad­just­ment to life on the PGA TOUR. The Seoul, South Korea na­tive not only strug­gled get­ting ac­cus­tomed to ev­ery­day life in the United States, but he also had to re-earn his TOUR card af­ter miss­ing the cut in each of his first six starts in 2013, which came af­ter he al­ready de­ferred his de­but for six months be­cause he wasn't yet old enough to com­pete (the PGA TOUR has a min­i­mum mem­ber­ship age limit of 18 years old, and Kim earned his card at 2012's qual­i­fy­ing school at just 17 years, five months). Add in that re­cur­ring back prob­lem last sea­son, which plagued him not only dur­ing his

Si Woo Kim

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