February 9, 2023

What a journey it has been.

From being the youngest member of the Manila Southwoods that captured the premier championship flight of the Fil-Am Open Golf Invitational Tournament in 2017, Joo Hyung Kim, 20, of South Korea became the second-youngest player to win a Professional Golf Association (PGA) Tour event since World War II.

Filipino golfers shared with pride the victory of Kim when he also became the youngest player to win the PGA Wyndham Championship held on Aug. 4 to 7 in North Carolina, United States.

Kim, who was also the teammate of Ibaloy top-rated amateur golfer Luigi Paolo Wong of La Trinidad, Benguet when the Manila Southwoods topped anew the Fil-Am tournament in Baguio City in 2017, brought home the $1.3 million (equivalent to more than P70 million) top purse from the PGA Tour win.

The South Korean phenom made his presence felt in Baguio when he was one of the youngest golfers to play in the Fil-Am Open Golf, the biggest and longest amateur golf tournament in the world at age 14.

Caddies at the Baguio Country Club and Camp John Hay, where the Fil-Am tournament is held annually in the later part of the year, know Kim for always bringing with him two or three burgers as snacks while playing.

He became a professional golfer at age 16 when he joined the Philippine Golf Tour in 2018.

Prior to that, he won the Philippine Junior Amateur, the Philippine Amateur Open Championship, and the W Express RVF Cup Amateur Championship.

In four years, he won 10 professional tournaments – one in PGA, two in Asian Tour, and seven other events.

“Tom (Kim’s popular nickname) has been vocal in his desire to play in the PGA. Dedication and perseverance brought him there,” said Danny Wong, father of Luigi Paolo Wong. With his win in the PGA Tour Wyndham Championship, Kim won a spot to play in the FedEx Cup which started Friday. The FedEx Cup will have bigger prizes for the top winners. – Harley F.  Palangchao