As one of the brightest young stars in men’s golf today, South Korea’s Kim Joo-hyung isn’t out there thinking just about himself.
Competing in his third PGA Championship this week in the state of New York, the 20-year-old wants to deliver a major championship for Asia.
“Because Asian golfers haven’t won that many majors, it motivates me that much more this week,” Kim said at Oak Hill Country Club in Pittsford, New York, on Wednesday (local time), in a Korean interview clip shared by the PGA of America. The PGA Championship will tee off at Oak Hill’s East Course on Thursday.
Only two Asian men have won major titles: Yang Yong-eun of South Korea at the 2009 PGA Championship and Hideki Matsuyama of Japan at the 2021 Masters. Kim, who already has two PGA Tour titles at age 20, has been touted as the next big thing coming out of this continent.
“I’d absolutely love to win a major, and I think I am well prepared,” added Kim, better known by his English name, Tom, in the United States. “If I can stay patient and take it one step at a time, I should do well.”
This is Kim’s third appearance at the PGA Championship. He has played the three other majors — the Masters, the U.S. Open and the Open Championship — once each. Though Kim missed the cuts at his two previous PGA Championships, he said he still feels comfortable competing at this major tournament for the third time.
The par-70 East Course at Oak Hill will play 7,394 yards, 250 yards longer than the last PGA Championship it hosted in 2013. Two of the par-4 holes will be over 500 yards: the sixth (503 yards) and the 17th (502 yards).
Kim said he has worked particularly hard on his driving for this week and has also tried to polish up his short game around the green.
“This being a major championship, the course is difficult. I think you’ll have to be perfect, both mentally and physically,” Kim said. “This course isn’t significantly longer than some other courses I’ve played before, though it’s got some long holes.”
In a separate interview conducted in English, Kim referred to the East Course as “a tough track.”
“It rewards good golf. So looking forward to it,” Kim said. “It’s hard for everyone. You can’t fluke it around here. You really need to control your ball really well. You have to hit a lot of fairways. You have to hit a lot of greens. I feel like this course definitely shows you why it’s a major championship.”
When asked if he embraces his underdog status up against seasoned veterans, Kim said, “I like to think of it that way a little bit, but at the same time, I don’t because I feel like I had the game good enough to compete out here and that’s why I’m here.
“If I can give myself at a good game plan, it’s not going to be easy. I just have to try my best and hope for the best,” Kim added.
Kim is one of five South Koreans in the field at Oak Hill, joined by Yang, Im Sung-jae, Kim Si-woo and Lee Kyoung-hoon.