The annual Fil-Am Open Invitational Golf Tournament held in Baguio City has been proven anew as one of the best training grounds for upcoming professional golfers competing in national and international events.
Former Manila Southwoods player Joo Hyung Kim, popularly known as Tom Kim, made history as the second youngest player to seal two Professional Golf Association (PGA) Tour wins before turning 21 years old.
Kim won the 2022 Wyndham Championship and the latest, 2022 Shriner’s Children’s Open, at 20 years, three months, and 18 days old.
Golf legend Tiger Woods is the first player to win two PGA tours – the 1996 Shriner’s Children’s Open and 1996 Walt Disney World Golf Classic – at 20 years, nine months, and 21 days old.
Kim has won $2.754 million from his two PGA Tour wins, or equivalent to more than P150 million.
Kim was only 14 years old when he joined the bemedalled Manila Southwoods in defending their Fil-Am titles at Camp John Hay and Baguio Country Club.
Kim made his second appearance with Manila Southwoods in the 68th Fil-Am where the team defended its titles in the premier flights with the South Korean phenom becoming the golden boy of the team with his even par scores in both courses.
He turned professional in 2018 at age 16.
Cordilleran golfer Paolo Luigi Wong, a bemedalled former member of the Philippine Amateur Golf Team, was with Kim when he was playing with the Manila Southwoods.
Another Manila Southwoods player, Aidric Chan, won the IMG Academy Junior World Championships on July 13, 2019, or 33 years after Filipino golfer Carito Villaroman won the same title in 1986. Woods won the title in 1991.
Yuto Katsuragawa, another member of Manila Southwoods, has already won on the Japan Tour and is currently ranked second in the money rankings.
Considered as the longest and biggest amateur golf tournament in the Asia-Pacific, the annual Fil-Am also attracts former professional golfers-turned-amateur to compete along with fellow top Filipino and foreign players.
This year’s Fil-Am tournament will see more than 1,200 players with Manila Southwoods remaining the team to beat in the championship flights in the regular division.
The Fil-Am will kick off on Nov. 23 and ends on Dec. 11. – Harley F. Palangchao