BOB WEST ON GOLF — Tom Kim performing amazing PGA Tour feats

Published 12:06 am Wednesday, October 12, 2022

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Readers of this column who follow the PGA Tour, and I’m guessing most of you do, have to be shaking their heads over the dynamic feats of 20-year-old South Korean Tom Kim. What he’s done in the last two months have Kim legitimately being mentioned in the same breath as a young Tiger Woods.

Nobody is saying Kim is going to be the next Tiger because there will probably never be another Tiger. But Kim won his first PGA Tour event at a younger age than Tiger and he’s the only player since World War II, other than Tiger, to win twice before his 21st birthday.

At 20 years, three months and 20 days, he’s closer to 19 than 21.

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Win No. 2 came Sunday in Las Vegas, a triumph that resulted from staring down World No. 4 Patrick Cantlay on the back nine. Cantlay, after shooting 60 on Saturday, twice came from two shots down to catch Kim on the back, then stumbled to a triple bogey on the final hole.

Kim, in the process of becoming only the second player since Lee Trevino in 1974 to win without making a bogey in 72 holes, prevailed by three strokes. After the Vegas victory, he ascended to No. 15 in the OWGR.

Unlike most foreign players, Kim didn’t hone his game in the uber competitive world of American college golf. He did it playing as a teenager on the Asian Tour, where he won twice. A 7th place finish in the British Open got him temporary membership on the PGA Tour.

It didn’t take long for him to show up on American radar. In August, at the Wyndham Classic, he made a quadruple bogey on the first hole, bounced back to shoot a 67, then notched his first PGA Tour win by three strokes. He fired 27 on the front nine enroute to a closing 61.

That led to him being chosen for the International Team in the President Cup. He promptly responded by becoming the star of the team. His 18th hole birdie, and ensuing celebration, to top Cantlay and Xander Schauffele 1 up, was one of the event’s highlights.

Earlier in that high-profile match he’d helped partner Se Woo Kim with a pair of eagles. Maybe you have noticed, he brings Tigeresque flair.

Trevor Immelman, the captain of the International Team, dutifully proclaimed, “A star is born.” Nobody, absolutely nobody, is questioning Immelman’s judgment.”

Kim’s caddie Joe Skovron, who spent 13 years toting Rickie Fowler’s bag, piled on by saying, “He has that ‘it’ factor that he wants the moment, he wants the big putt. He wants that and he can respond to it. I think the sky’s the limit for him.”

Among Kim’s many endearing qualities is that LIV apparently won’t be able to get its hooks into him. He made that clear after saying he had no clue how much money he’d won the Tuesday after his $1.4 million Wyndham victory.

“I haven’t checked,” he said. “Tiger never checked. If I can play well, everything will take care of itself. For me, it’s always about playing the PGA Tour. When I was young, I would see Tiger win on the PGA Tour, not somewhere else. So, for me, that will always be the goal.”

No way to tell where this is all headed, of course. Jordan Spieth was going to be the next Tiger until he wasn’t. Possibly working against Kim is that he’s not long off the tee. But he’s clearly stamped himself as somebody who is going to have to be reckoned with.”

Not to mention being a prospect for a memorable TV spot with Tiger.

CHIP SHOTS: Andrew Landry fired his lowest PGA Tour round (66) in 11 months and 14 tournaments to make the cut on the number last week in Las Vegas. He settled for even par rounds of 71-71 on the weekend, however, to finish tied for 73rd at 4-under 280.

The PNG ex collected a check for $16,000. Former Lamar star MJ Daffue missed his second cut in three starts after rounds of 73-71.

Neither Landry, Daffue or Chris Stroud are eligible to participate in limited field events the next two weeks in Japan and South Carolina. Their next opportunity will be Oct. 27-30 in the Bermuda Open.

Out-of-area players once again dominated a Southern Texas PGA Junior Tour fall event, winning seven of 10 flights Sunday at Idylwild Golf Club. Keaton Richardson of DeQuincy, Louisiana, took the highest Junior Tour flight with an 85 in Boys 15-18.

Other Junior Tour winners included Chase Ion of Sour Lake with an impressive 74 in Boys 13-14, Cameron Steward of Kingwood (83 in Girls 15-18) and Abigal Harris of Spring (100 in Girls 11-12).

In Junior Links, Colby O’Neal of Beaumont captured Boys 13-14 with a 9-hole score of 57, while Sheridyn Banks of Sugarland placed first in Girls 13-13.

Little Linksters winners were Rolando Laurenzo of Houston (43 in Boys 11-12, 9-hole red tees), Sarah Marquardt of Tomball (38 in Girls 11-12, 9-hole red), Domenic Laurenzo of Houston (36 in Co-ed 6-8, 9 hole modified) and Hudson Walters of Sour Lake (30 in Boys 9-10, 5-hole modified).

Monday Senior 50 Plus 2 ball at Zaharias saw the team of Keith Mullins, Tony Trevino, Charles Perez and Art Turner score a sweep, winning both sides with minus 3. Closest to the pin winners were Joe Gongora (No. 2, 11 feet, 3 inches), Rick Pritchett (No. 7, 12-2), Danny Robbins (No. 12, 2-11) and Ron LaSalle (No. 15, 7-4).

All points count was the format for the weekly Babe Zaharias DogFight. Taking first with 32 points was the team of Gary Whitfill, Pritchett, Ray Martinez and Paul Duplantis. Teams captained by Earl Richard and Adam Davis tied for second with 27.

Closest to the pin winners were Bob West (No. 2, 6 feet, 5 inches), Pritchett (No. 7, 6-6), James Vercher (No. 12, 9-9) and Charlie Leard (No. 15, 2-3).

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