We sit down with two-time PGA Tour champion Tom Kim ahead of his BMW PGA Championship debut at Wentworth to discuss everything from his form and goals to the Presidents Cup and Tottenham Hotspur.
After an electrifying 2022, 2023 has been slightly slower by Kim Joo-hyung’s lofty standards.
Better known as Tom Kim – a nickname derived from Thomas the Tank Engine as a child – the 21-year-old gained a special temporary membership to the PGA Tour after the 2022 Open Championship and took full and spectacular advantage with wins at the Wyndham Championship and Shriners Children’s Open. In doing so he became the first player to win twice on the PGA Tour before the age of 21 since a certain Tiger Woods in 1996.
Kim’s performances saw him make the International Team for the Presidents Cup with the South Korean’s entertaining style of play in his two wins and three defeats gaining worldwide acclaim.
2023 has seen plenty more entertaining golf and a host of excellent performances, just without a trophy to show for them.
He came close on his last visit to England, finishing T2 behind Brian Harman in The Open at Royal Liverpool to close out an excellent Major season that saw him T16th on his Masters debut, and T8 at the US Open.
He also reached the finale of the FedEx Cup, the Tour Championship, in his first full season, finishing T17, and reached a career-high 13th in the Official World Golf Rankings.
He heads to Wentworth with three top 10s and five top 25s from his last five starts, making him one of the favorites to lift the DP World Tour’s flagship trophy in Surrey come Sunday.
Your first time here at the BMW PGA Championship, what do you make of Wentworth and what made you join the field this year?
Firstly, the course is in awesome shape. It’s such a huge event on the DP World Tour and I don’t get the chance to play over here as much so it’s nice with the PGA Tour’s fall schedule, I can get out and play internationally. I’m excited to be here, it’s a great field, and looking forward to the week.
How important is it to you that you are a global player?
Really important. I want to win all around the world. Winning internationally is really important to me and there aren’t many bigger events than the BMW PGA. We’ve got a lot of big names here this week, so it’ll be fun and a good test.
Sum up your 2023. Some great finishes in the Majors and you reached your highest World Ranking (13th), but no victories. Is that a frustration?
It’s been a learning curve for me. I made the Tour Championship and I had some of my best finishes in the Majors but overall, compared to what I hoped to achieve at the end of 2022, I haven’t quite done that. But it was an important year for me to get a full season in, see all the golf courses, and experience different tournaments. It’s definitely been a year of ups and downs but I’ve learned a lot and, hopefully, that’ll help me improve further for 2024.
Did the success of 2022 add pressure?
I don’t think it added pressure, but it added expectation. That goes up a little bit, which is just natural. My expectations have always been high and I’m greedy. I’ve felt it wasn’t a good year but, when I reflect, it’s been a really good year. I’ve learned a lot about myself, a lot about the Tour and the golf courses, I just haven’t got that win.
How does that affect your goals for 2024?
I think that I know what I need to do in 2024, so I won’t let outside stuff influence that. I know how to win on the PGA Tour, I know how to win internationally, and internally I have a clear picture of what I need to do.
The Ryder Cup is going to be a huge talking point with all of Team Europe playing this week, but how big a goal will making your second International Team for the Presidents Cup be over the coming year?
That is up there as one of my main targets. Things are tensing up for the Ryder Cup and it’s exciting – just watching the Ryder Cup is going to motivate me to play better so that I be a part of another Presidents Cup next year.
You experienced the strength of Team USA last year and almost overcame them, so who are you backing to lift the Ryder Cup?
Horsepower and world rankings favor the US, yeah, but Europe always does such a great job of making teams come together, gel, and get points when it matters, especially when it’s played in Europe. I’m looking forward to watching it unfold and trying to unpick the strategy, figure out who’s going to get paired and picked and get a bit more knowledge about the USA Team that I can hopefully use in Montreal next year.
Away from the course, you’re a big Tottenham fan and we saw you spend some time at the stadium with Harry Kane and Son Heung-min earlier in the year. How big a blow was it to lose the England captain and what does it mean to you to have a player like Son representing your nation?
It’s heartbreaking to have lost Kane – he was a very special player for Tottenham and I was really sad to see him go, but we still have a great team and a lot of fantastic young players. Son’s captain now, which is a great achievement for him and our country, so I’m hoping he can help us to succeed over the coming seasons.
He’s a man who is so inspirational for our country and for the younger generation – and not just soccer players. Having a countryman like that on the world stage just inspires everyone.
Another Tom Kim victory this week would prove inspirational, too.
(Laughs) Let’s hope so.
Find out who Tom Kim will play alongside in the opening two rounds of the BMW PGA, along with all the tee times and groupings, here.
About the Author
Rob specializes in the DP World Tour, PGA Tour, LIV Golf, and the Ryder Cup, spending large chunks of his days reading about, writing about, and watching the tours each month.
He’s passionate about the equipment used by professional golfers and is also a font of knowledge when it comes to golf balls, golf trolleys, and golf bags, testing thousands down the years.
Rob uses a Callaway Paradym driver, TaylorMade M5 5-wood, TaylorMade P790 driving iron, Callaway Paradym irons (4-AW), TaylorMade MG3 wedges (52º, 58º), Odyssey Tri-Hot 5k Double Wide putter, and Callaway Chrome Soft X golf ball.