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5D AGO

Tom Kim ready to hit top gear at Genesis Scottish Open

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    Written by Chuah Choo Chiang @chuahcc

    Tom Kim likes where his game is at right now, and as in the nature of golf, the timing of it is impeccable.

    He wasn’t game-sharp a few months ago but a nine-week grind that led to his best result of the season has proven to be the boost and reinforcement he needed to ready himself for the end of the FedExCup Regular Season.

    This week, the 22-year-old Korean star returns to the Genesis Scottish Open where a solo third-place finish in 2022 fueled to a burgeoning career rise where he is now a three-time winner.

    “I'm happy with where my game is at,” said Kim Wednesday, ahead of the co-sanctioned DP World Tour and PGA TOUR tournament at The Renaissance Club. “This is where it kind of all started for me. I started making a run here in Scotland, and I had a chance last year as well (to finish T6). It's just good vibes. Excited to get going. This is one of the events that I circle at the start of the year and I know I'm going to play.”

    He showed he was back to his best at the Travelers Championship a few weeks ago, leading after each of the first three rounds before losing in a playoff to close friend and world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler. At the back of his mind now, is to go one better in the upcoming weeks, which includes The Open Championship and Paris Olympic Games. And then there’s the FedExCup Playoffs as well, where he's currently ranked 41st in the standings.

    It isn’t a norm for professional golfers to embark on long, consecutive stretches of travel and tournament play but Kim felt it was necessary to sharpen his competitive edge.

    “Obviously the biggest thing was trying to find my game,” he said. “My thing was, man, I play good at home. Just when I go to tournaments, I'm not sharp. The nine weeks was called for. No matter how much you play at home and you play money games, tournament golf is just very different. I wanted my tournament golf to get sharper. I felt like if I'm sharp competitively, that I can really focus and come out and play again because there's so many variants that come in tournament golf, like wind and lies and pins. You just can't create that at home.”


    Scottie Scheffler and Tom Kim’s friendship on display while competing at Travelers


    He does feel at home in the Scottish climate and conditions which can showcase four different seasons in a day. A joint runner-up finish at The Open at Royal Liverpool last year where the final round was played under treacherous weather was a sign that Kim is a man for all seasons. More importantly, the Korean knows that mental toughness is vital too to thrive on links golf.

    “If you want to be as good as you want to be in the world, you have to come out here and adjust," Kim said. "You can't just play well in the U.S. You have to come out here and prove that you can play. I love playing out here and I love playing in the U.S. I think adjustment-wise, it's really cool.

    “Two years ago, I didn't really know what to expect because it's just so new. When the wind is up, you have to be so precise with your landing spots and you have to be so smart. It's not a parkland where you hit driver as far as you can and hit the ball as close as you can. You have to strategize and pick your spots. Those things are so unique, and I think it really tests every aspect of your game. That's what I love about the next two weeks.

    “Mental toughness comes a lot into play and you have to be okay with tough breaks. You might hit a perfect golf shot and because the wind gusts, you're going to have bad breaks; and to be okay with that. I think people who succeed out here in the wind definitely are good at that, and people who struggle, I think just have a hard time adjusting to that.”

    Rory McIlroy will defend his Genesis Scottish Open title this week against a star-studded cast that includes reigning Open champion Brian Harman, Scotsman Robert MacIntyre and PGA champion Xander Schauffele, who was also triumphant at the 2022 Genesis Scottish Open.

    Chuah is senior director, marketing & communications – APAC for the PGA TOUR. Based in Malaysia, he has been a strong advocate for Asian golf over the past two decades. Follow his #AsiaRising tweets @chuahcc Follow Chuah Choo Chiang on Twitter.

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