Kim, 20, continues to impress as he leads Q-School

By Rex HoggardDecember 1, 2012, 2:00 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – On his official PGA Tour profile Meen Whee Kim listed his dream foursome as Ironman, James Bond and the Terminator, which prompted his manager Andy Chong to ask about Tiger Woods, his idol and unrequited swing coach?

'Do they allow fivesomes?' the soft-spoken 20-year-old beamed.

No, at least not at PGA Tour Q-School, but then Kim already seems adrift in a dream that many outside of his inner circle couldn’t have imagined a month ago.

The square-shouldered prodigy is a stroke clear of the field and cruising to a PGA Tour card, part of an Asian invasion at this year’s Fall Classic that was at least partially sparked by the Tour’s transition to a new qualifying process which makes this week’s finale the last Q-School with direct access to the Big Leagues.

'More players from Korea tried (Q-School) because it was the last,' said Chong, pointing out that Kim will play next year in the United States even if that means he has to ply his trade on the secondary Tour.

But through three rounds at PGA West that seems about as likely as a snow storm in the Coachella Valley. He scorched the Stadium layout with a course-record tying 63 on Thursday and followed that with a 67 on Friday to move clear of the field at 18 under.

Not bad for a player who is 20 events into his professional career and in his second year at Yonsei University in Korea. But then the guy who modeled his swing frame-by-frame off of Woods’ action has been playing like his red-shirted idol of late.

Following his maiden victory at October’s Shinhan Donghae Open on the Korean Tour – a playoff bout over Tour staples Kevin Na, Paul Casey and Charlie Wi – Kim took medalist honors at the first stage of Q-School and was runner-up at second stage.

We see where this is heading, but then a third-place showing at PGA West may be underestimating Kim, who is following in the footsteps of John Huh, the only rookie on Tour this season to advance to the Tour Championship and the front-runner for Rookie of the Year honors.

For Kim, one of seven players in this week’s field from Korea, the capriciousness of final stage seems lost on him, be it via youthful sensibilities or a golf IQ that transcends his inexperience. The current consensus, however, is on the latter.

This is, after all, the same steely-eyed young man who forged his way to a gold medal at the 2010 Asian Games, an accomplishment that exempted him from pre-qualifying for this year’s Q-School, an additional hurdle that may have nixed his maiden trip to America, and Korea’s mandatory 22-months of military service.

All one needs to know about Kim’s accelerated learning curve came on Friday when he gave his unique take on the six-day Q-School slugfest that has dropped players with much more experience. When asked how he was pacing himself at final stage he flashed a toothy grin and explained, 'First two (rounds) were just practice.'

'That was the plan,” Chong said. “Mentally everybody gets drained. All you hear is six rounds, six rounds, six rounds, so to stay fresh he decided to view the first two days as practice rounds.'

It’s not surprising then that Q-School has become his personal introduction to the golf world.

Kim arrived in the United States for the first time on Oct. 15, preparing for first stage at nearby Desert Falls Country Club where Chong holds a winter clinic for Korean golfers. Since then he hasn’t stop impressing observers, and that includes Chong.

'He is so mature for his age, both on and off the golf course, and has such a subtle sense of humor,' Chong said. 'That’s what was so exciting about working with him. He’s a great talent but it’s really how he is able to absorb things so quickly.'

Yeah, like conventional wisdom that suggests 20-year-old phenoms making their first push through Q-School aren’t supposed to manhandle what was once billed as the toughest golf course in the world during the game’s most grueling tournament.

Or that his potential dream pairing, at least with Woods, is closer than he could have ever imagined. And no, Meen Whee, they don’t play fivesomes on the PGA Tour.

Getty Images

Romo set to make PGA Tour debut at Punta Cana

By Will GrayMarch 20, 2018, 6:43 pm

While much of the attention in golf this week will be focused on the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Tony Romo may send a few eyeballs toward the Caribbean.

The former quarterback and current CBS NFL analyst will make his PGA Tour debut this week, playing on a sponsor invite at the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic. The exemption was announced last month when Romo played as an amateur at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and he's apparently been hard at work ever since.

"I'll be treating it very serious," Romo told reporters Tuesday. "My wife will tell you she hasn't seen me much over the last month. But if you know me at all, I think you know if I care about something I'm going to commit to it 100 percent. So like I said. you'll get the best I've got this week."

Romo retired from the NFL last year and plays to a plus-0.3 handicap. In addition to his participation in the Pebble Beach event, he has tried to qualify for the U.S. Open multiple times and last month played a North Texas PGA mini-tour event as an amateur.

According to Romo, one of the key differences between pro football and golf is the fact that his former position is entirely about reactive decisions, while in golf "you're trying to commit wholeheartedly before you ever pull the club out of your bag."

"I'm not worried about getting hit before I hit the ball," Romo said. "It's at my own tempo, my own speed, in this sport. Sometimes that's difficult, and sometimes that's easier depending on the situation."

Romo admitted that he would have preferred to have a couple extra weeks to prepare, but recently has made great strides in his wedge game which "was not up to any Tour standard." The first-tee jitters can't be avoided, but Romo hopes to settle in after battling nerves for the first three or four holes Thursday.

Romo hopes to derive an added comfort factor from his golf in the Dallas area, where he frequently plays with a group of Tour pros. While Steph Curry traded texts with a few pros before his tournament debut last summer on the Tour, Romo expects his phone to remain silent until he puts a score on the board.

"I think they're waiting to either tell me 'Congrats' or 'I knew it, terrible,'" Romo said. "Something along those lines. They're probably going to wait to see which way the wind's blowing before they send them."

Romo will tee off at 8:10 a.m. ET Thursday alongside Dru Love and Denny McCarthy.

Getty Images

Spieth vs. Reed random? Hmm, wonders Spieth

By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 6:42 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Monday’s blind draw to determine the 16 pods for this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play didn’t exactly feel “blind” for Jordan Spieth, whose group includes Patrick Reed.

Spieth and Reed have become a staple of U.S. teams in recent years, with a 7-2-2 record in the Ryder and Presidents Cup combined. So when the ping-pong ball revealed Reed’s number on Monday night Spieth wasn’t surprised.

“It seems to me there's a bit more to this drawing than randomness,” laughed Spieth, whose pod also includes Haotong Li and Charl Schwartzel. “It's not just me and him. It's actually a lot of groups, to have Luke List and Justin [Thomas] in the same group seems too good to be true. It might be some sort of rigging that's going on, I'm not sure.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Tee times

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

Spieth will play Reed on Friday in the round-robin format and knows exactly what to expect from the fiery American.

“I've seen it firsthand when he's been at his best. And we have history together in a couple of different playoffs, which is a match-play scenario,” Spieth said. “I've got to take care of work tomorrow and the next day for that day to even matter. But even if it doesn't matter, trust me, it will matter to both of us.”

Getty Images

U.S. Open champ Koepka (wrist) to miss Masters

By Will GrayMarch 20, 2018, 6:12 pm

Reigning U.S. Open champ Brooks Koepka will miss the Masters, according to a USA Today report.

Koepka has been battling a left wrist injury since late last year, and he hasn't played since finishing last at the limited-field Sentry Tournament of Champions in early January. Weeks later he revealed that he had a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU) tendon but hoped to return in time for the season's first major.

According to the report, Koepka only started putting this week and plans to begin hitting chips next week.

"They said I would be about 80 percent, but I can't play 80 percent," Koepka said. "I either have to go full bore or not at all. I don't want to risk getting it re-injured and then be out a long time."

Koepka has finished T-33 or better in each of his three prior Masters appearances, culminating in a T-11 result last year.

Getty Images

Spieth's agent leaving firm, but keeping Spieth as client

By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 6:07 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Jay Danzi has stepped down as COO of Lagardère Sports U.S., and will take one of the game’s most marketable players, Jordan Spieth, with him.

In a press release, Danzi said, “after careful consideration I feel that it’s time for a new adventure.” Danzi will represent Spieth independently.

“It’s been a privilege having Jordan be part of the Lagardère Sports’ family for the last five years and watching him grow from a promising young player to someone who transcends the game,” said Steve Loy, Lagardère Sports president of golf. “We are also grateful for Jay’s contributions over the years, in golf and other areas of our business.”

Lagardère Sports underwent an aggressive expansion in recent years, acquiring numerous boutique firms including Danzi’s business and Crown Sports Management.

Although losing Spieth, the world’s fourth-ranked player, and Danzi, who took over as Lagardère COO in February 2017, is a setback, the firm still has a number of high-profile clients including Phil Mickelson, Jon Rahm and Patton Kizzire, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour this season.