Tom Kim Defies Inner Doubts, Secures Title Defense at Shriners Children's Open

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Tom Kim Defies Inner Doubts, Secures Title Defense at Shriners Children’s Open

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In the expansive halls of TPC Summerlin, a corridor lined with the echoes of golfing legends separates the player’s dining area from the locker room. Adorning the walls are memories of historic tournaments in Las Vegas, including the likes of Jim Furyk, Raymond Floyd, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, and, at the far end, Tom Kim.

This tribute stands in honor of Kim’s groundbreaking victory at the 2022 Shriners Children’s Open, a feat unmatched since the era of Tiger Woods – the last player to secure two TOUR wins before turning 21.

Eagerly sought by Kim, he had noticed its absence during a prior visit earlier in the year. Every day of the tournament week, he passed by, using it as a personal reminder of his extraordinary accomplishment. The weight of internal expectations can be profound, especially after winning twice on the TOUR in just three months.

“I always feel I could do more,” he shared.

Yet, this display also served as motivation, a driving force to secure that elusive third victory. It was a testament to himself and the world that his star was still on the rise, a reminder that he was determined to keep his photo on that wall.

“I really don’t want anyone else’s photo up here,” he declared.

And for at least one more year, that wish remains true. With a final-round score of 66, Kim clinched the 2023 Shriners Children’s Open, besting Adam Hadwin by a single stroke. At just 21, Kim stands as the fourth-youngest golfer to attain three TOUR wins, joining the ranks of Gene Sarazen, Horton Smith, and Woods.

“This one makes it a lot better of a year for sure,” he reflected.

Yet, the summer preceding this victory was marked by a slump. Kim found himself out of sync, struggling to find his rhythm over the ball. The ease that accompanied his initial victories and his standout performance in the International Presidents Cup was replaced by uncertainty. He sought solace and guidance from coach Chris Como, known for his work with golfing luminaries like Woods, Jason Day, and Trevor Immelman. Together, they fine-tuned Kim’s swing and honed his strategic approach.

The partnership yielded swift results. Kim secured a sixth-place tie at the Genesis Scottish Open and finished as a runner-up (albeit by six strokes) to Brian Harman at The Open Championship. An ankle injury briefly sidelined him, preventing him from defending his maiden TOUR title at the Wyndham Championship. However, upon his return, Kim showcased consistent performances in the FedExCup Playoffs, ultimately finishing 20th in the FedExCup rankings.

This set the stage for his return to TPC Summerlin, a venue where he felt poised for more. Kim’s journey in 2023 was marked by both triumphs and trials, but the weight of his internal expectations was a constant companion.

“You can’t say it was a bad year,” he acknowledged, “But just personally I feel like I’ve always expected a lot from myself.”

Defending his Shriners Children’s Open title provided the incentive he needed. The weeks of anticipation and preparation culminated in a final round that was nothing short of intense and emotional.

Kim’s personality, a unique blend of youthful exuberance and mature composure, was on full display. Moments of levity and joy punctuated by moments of profound focus and determination characterized his journey.

As the sun set on this chapter, Tom Kim stood as a testament to the resilience, drive, and spirit that define his promising career. With three wins, a Nike sponsorship, and even a piece of white chocolate awaiting his celebration, Kim’s journey is one marked by a balance of ambition and joy.

Reference

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