After his first hole at the Wyndham Championship, Joohyung Kim was the owner of a potentially ruinous quadruple bogey. After his last, he was the owner of his own piece of golf history.
On Sunday, Kim became the second-youngest men’s winner since World War II, shooting a blistering final-round 61 to win by five strokes. After his quad on the tournament’s first hole, the ascendant 20-year-old played his final 71 holes at 24 under, blowing away the competition on a rain-delayed, 26-hole Sunday.
“I stayed very patient this week. That was the thing,” Kim told CBS’s Amanda Renner afterward with a laugh. “I felt like after that quad, once I started to laugh it off, I could feel like, you know what, I’m in a better mental state. Instead of getting angry and depressed, I stayed in the moment and I can’t believe I won with a triple bogey on the first haul. Hopefully that doesn’t happen again. But yeah, it’s definitely a week that I’ll remember forever.”
Patience hasn’t been necessary for much of Kim’s career to date. The 20-year-old, who also goes by ‘Tom’ for his beloved childhood show “Thomas the Tank Engine,” has been a force in the world of pro golf ever since arriving on the PGA Tour scene on a special exemption earlier this summer. After a top-25 at the U.S. Open in June, Kim racked up a solo-third at the co-sanctioned Genesis Scottish Open and a top-50 finish at the Open at St. Andrews.
In just three starts since joining the Tour on a special exemption in mid-July, Kim has made three cuts and clinched a pair of top-10 finishes, including Sunday’s win at the Wyndham Championship. His victory not only guarantees him immediate entrance into the FedEx Cup Playoffs (and the coinciding $75 million bonus pool), it also places him as one of the youngest PGA Tour winners in the last 90 years, second only to Jordan Spieth.
“I can’t believe that. I’m speechless right now,” he said, tears welling in his eyes. “I’ve worked really hard to get this point. I’m sorry. I mean, just walking off that 18th green, just thinking about the behind-the-scenes work. And just I want to thank my team first, you know, they’ve supported me so much. My family, my parents, my agents, my coaches, just everyone who’s worked beyond their line to just help me reach this point.”
According to stats guru Justin Ray, Kim is the only player in recorded PGA Tour history (the last 40 years) to win an event after starting his opening round with a quadruple bogey, and he’s just the second player in that same span to win an event after recording a quad at any point in his opening round.
Of course, the records are only beginning for Kim, who now enters the most lucrative stretch on the PGA Tour schedule on one of golf’s hottest streaks. There’s a legitimate possibility for the 20-year-old to quadruple his lifetime earnings in the span of just the next three weeks, should his firebreathing brand of ball-striking continue stand up against the game’s best players.
There is, however, at least one downside: the party will have to wait for young Joohyung — he won’t turn 21 for another 10 months.