LA QUINTA, Calif. – Of the six Kims in this week’s field at the PGA Tour’s final stage of Q-School one seemed to be on the short list of many industry insiders heading into Wednesday’s first round.
“Watch Meen Whee Kim,” one longtime equipment representative said, “he can play. Swings the club like Tiger (Woods).”
And like Woods the young Korean found his way atop a leaderboard with a second-round 63 on the Stadium Course at PGA West for the lead at golf’s longest week.
The comparisons to Woods are inevitable considering that Kim, 20, has never had a swing coach and taught himself to play by mimicking Woods’ action and comparing the two swings in side-by-side video analysis.
“Butch’s (Harmon) swing, Hank’s (Haney) swing, Sean’s (Foley) swing, doesn’t matter,” said Kim, who is a stroke clear of the field at 13 under. “I like Tiger’s swing.”
After the run Kim has had during this Q-School it seems likely Woods would approve of the front-runner’s swing. Kim arrived in the United States on Oct. 15, was medalist at the first stage of Q-School, runner-up at second stage and is on pace to secure his first trip to the PGA Tour following two solid rounds in the Coachella Valley.
Not bad for a player who was largely under the radar until he took gold at the 2010 Asian Games, which elevated him to phenom status and exempted him from a mandatory 22-month stint in the Korean military.
Kim’s round, which tied the competitive course record on the Stadium layout, was all part of a scoring assault on both courses at PGA West that now features 109 players under par and a score of 7 under for a spot in the top 25, which will qualify for a 2013 Tour card after Monday’s final round.
Tour veteran Vaughn Taylor, who played the easier Nicklaus Tournament course, was alone in second place after a 64 followed by Daniel Chopra (66) and Robert Karlsson (68) who are tied for sixth and Heath Slocum (66) who is among a large group tied for 14th.
Overnight leader Steve Lebrun shot 69 on the Nicklaus Tournament course and was tied with Richard H. Lee (67) in third place.