Joohyung Kim had precisely one scenario this week to extend his season: just win, baby.
Kim, better known as Tom (because he loved Thomas the Train growing up), turned 20 years old on June 21st. He was two days removed from a 23rd-place finish at the U.S. Open at Brookline, which moved him just inside the top 60 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Since then, the Kim train has come barreling down the tracks for what has turned into an epic run to the FedExCup Playoffs.
Kim wasn’t even eligible for the PGA Tour’s postseason when he teed off Thursday morning at the Wyndham Championship.
The South Korean would’ve sat 97th in the playoff standings coming into the week, but similar to Will Zalatoris' situation last year, Kim was playing on special temporary Tour membership, not full status. Therefore, the only way he could secure a tee time at next week's FedEx St. Jude Championship, the first of three playoff events, was to emerge victorious this week.
The odds were already stacked against him, and that stack grew a little higher Thursday morning when he spotted the field four shots by making a quadruple-bogey 8 on his opening hole. Despite starting with a snowman, Kim opened with a 3-under 67, becoming just the third player in the ShotLink era (2003) to make quadruple bogey or worse on the first hole of any round and go on to card an under-par score.
He would make just three bogeys the remainder of the tournament on his way to a five-shot victory, becoming the first player born in the 2000s to win on Tour.
Kim’s front nine in Sunday’s final round had to feel like a dream to the budding Korean star.
After opening with a par – cutting Thursday’s score on the first hole in half – Kim went on an 8-under run over his next eight holes, going out in 27 to tie Brandt Snedeker’s course record on Sedgefield’s opening nine.
He would bogey the 10th hole to douse the flames of the 59-watch, but it was merely a blip in what was an otherwise magical round of golf.
Birdies at Nos. 15 and 16 allowed plenty of cushion to enjoy the walk up the 18th fairway, and a two-putt par gave way to smiles and hugs as he clinched his first Tour win.
When the final putt dropped, it added up to a 9-under 61 and a tee time Thursday at TPC Southwind.
See you in Memphis, Tom.