Tom Kim owes Genesis Scottish Open 'everything' after becoming new PGA Tour star
The 20-year-old was one of three players who secured spots in the historic first co-sanctioned event between the DP World Tour and PGA Tour in July through the Korean PGA.
Grabbing the chance with both hands, he finished third behind Xander Schauffele to earn special temporary status on the PGA Tour, where he subsequently won twice in the space of a few months to currently sit 15th in the world rankings.
“It's everything,” Kim, speaking after he’s secured a share of the lead after the opening round of the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, told The Scotsman of how important his week in East Lothian had been in terms of his spectacular rise in the game.
“I think it was the first really big event for me that I finished inside the top five. After that week I really believed that, with this field (the strongest-ever for a DP World Tour event, I can really play well.
“And really after the Scottish Open, everything just kind of went with a rhythm and, two or three events later I win. It definitely meant a lot for me.”
The Genesis Scottish Open is being staged once again at The Renaissance Club next year. “Hopefully,” he said to being asked if he planned to be there. “I'd love to play, I'd love to play the Scottish Open.”
Kim carded a three-under-par 69 at the Albany resort to set the pace along with defending champion Viktor Hovland, as well as Collin Morikawa and Austrian Sepp Straka, who replaced injured tournament host Tiger Woods in the 20-man field.
“I'm very grateful for it,” said Kim of his current standing in the game. “I definitely don't take it for granted and I'm extremely grateful to be 20 years old and to play on the PGA Tour. But I've worked really hard for it and I'm enjoying every moment out there, so it's really fun.”
He met Woods for the first time when taking part in the Hero Shot event earlier in the week and was the star of the show, even though he lost to Matt Fitzpatrick in the final.
“I just try to be myself and just try to express what I feel,” said Kim of his charisma. “Obviously I think it's great for me to just be normal out here instead of trying to hide a personality. I think I enjoy it more being out here because I am just myself, so it's great.”
Hovland made an eagle-2 at the 14th as he took up where he’d left off when closing with a 66 to win by a shot from Scottie Scheffler 12 months ago.
“It was good,” said the Norwegian of his day’s work in a testing wind. “I was a little frustrated in the practice rounds, I really couldn't flight the ball and the ball just went nowhere because I was spinning it so much.
“So I wasn't feeling too good about today when it started blowing, but just got into golf mode and started flighting it a little bit and hit some nice iron shots.”
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