Insider: After rough rookie year, Kim finding his wayAfter failing to keep his card as a PGA TOUR rookie in 2011, Bio Kim is making headway on the Nationwide Tour.June 06, 2012
John Dell, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
It's about time for Bio Kim's name to be pronounced right when he steps to the first tee to play on the Nationwide Tour.
Kim, a 21-year-old rookie, spends a lot of time correcting people on the proper way to say his first name. It's pronounced (bee-oh) and maybe over the course of the rest of the season, he won't have to worry about it as much.
"Sometimes the volunteers who announce my name on the first tee have trouble saying it, but that's OK," said Kim, who is from South Korea, and played last season with mixed results on the PGA TOUR.
What's helped Kim gain confidence was his victory last month on the OneAsia Tour, when he won in his native Seoul, South Korea. It was the second overseas win of his young career and that momentum he hopes to carry over to the Nationwide Tour.
On Sunday he finished tied for 50th at the Rex Hospital Open in Raleigh, North Carolina and is 34th on the Nationwide Tour money list. The Nationwide Tour heads to Mexico this week for the Mexico Open at the El Bosque Golf Club.
Kim, who is the youngest player on the Nationwide Tour, has finished in the top 10 in two of his last four tournaments. He struggled on the weekend in Raleigh, but isn't about to let it get to him.
"I started to play pretty well out in San Francisco and it kind of carried over and it helped me win overseas which was nice," Kim said.
What also is nice for Kim is the experience he has even though he's just 21. He's already played a full season on the PGA TOUR, and even though he's seeing many of the Nationwide Tour courses for the first time, he's holding his own.
"My putting has been pretty good," said Kim, who ranks fifth in putting average this year, "I'm driving it a little more in the fairway, and that kind of gets you in a better frame of mind."
Kim had trouble finding fairways last season on the PGA TOUR -- he was 181st in Driving Accuracy Percentage -- but he's found a better groove off the tee this season. He's hitting 63 percent of his fairways, a big jump from last year's 53 percent.
Kim is also not concerning himself with mechanics. It's a rut a lot of golfers fall into trying to be too fine on every swing.
"I've learned about patience and thinking about the mechanics of my swing maybe too much," Kim said about last season's time on the PGA TOUR, where he wound up 174th in FedExCup points and 162nd on the money list. "Technique-wise, I was too much into that part of it but this year I've kind of gone back to my old approach and that's about playing golf and enjoying it more.
"I'm much better off just playing golf and not thinking about the swing so much."
Another reason Kim has a better outlook is his health. Last season, he took a month off to have a heart procedure done, but says he's 100 percent healthy now.
Inside THE 25 Player Money Wins 1. Luke List $223,848 1 2. Andres Gonzales $197,845 1 3. Andrew Svoboda $171,367 0 4. Paul Haley II $162,334 1 5. James Hahn $158,395 1 34. Bio Kim $51,703 0
He was having trouble with an accelerated heart rate, had the surgery last September, and has had no trouble since. He said the heart problem was something he's had since he was a child, but the surgery fixed it.
"Last year I took care of all those heart issues so that's not been a problem at all," Kim said.
Kim had a slow start to the season on the Nationwide Tour, and at one point missed two straight cuts. But he came back strong to tie for fifth at the TPC Stonebrae, tied for 38th at the South Georgia Classic and then had another top 10 at the Stadion Classic.
Kim said it's not hard to compare the two tours, but he has noticed on the Nationwide Tour, you better make a lot of birdies.
"You have to make sure you have a lot of birdie opportunities on the Nationwide Tour," Kim said. "It's a little different than the PGA TOUR because some of the courses on the PGA TOUR are set up harder, but on the Nationwide I kind of feel like you have to make a lot of birdies out here."
Despite being the youngest on the Nationwide Tour, Kim says he isn't going to back down from the competition. In fact, he says having as much as experience as he does is a benefit. He turned pro as a 19-year-old in 2009.
"No, I'm not treated any differently just because I am the youngest out here," Kim said. "I think it's an advantage because I'm getting so much experience in pro golf and I'm playing with a lot of great guys out here."
Kim says his goal is to continue to improve and stay inside THE 25 on the money list by the end of the season. The top 25 at the end of the season will get PGA TOUR cards for 2013.
"I'm trying to win and I don't know when it's going to come but I'll be ready," Kim said. "I have to keep working and if I can take a bogey off my card in each round then that will put me closer so I'm thinking along those lines."
As for those who still mispronounce his name, there's a cure for that.
"Maybe if I play a little better, they might learn how to say my name," Kim said.
John Dell has covered golf for the Winston-Salem Journal in North Carolina for the last 18 years. His views do not necessarily represent the views of the PGA TOUR. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.