A member of Iron Heads GC, Kim ended up in the dreaded drop zone this season from the LIV Golf League along with Ripper GC’s Jediah Morgan, Smash GC’s Chase Koepka and James Piot of the HyFlyers GC.
That result is world’s apart from the fine form he had displayed in 2022, with Ws on the International Series Thailand in March, the first ever event on the Asian Tour’s set of 10 elevated events, and the Trust Golf Asian Mixed Stableford Challenge; results that ultimately secured the Asian Tour Order of Merit and a lucrative place on the inaugural LIV Golf League with the Iron Heads GC.
The Seoul-born 34-year-old showed glimpses on Friday, carding an impressive five-under second round of 66 to sit on three-under at the halfway stage.
With the prospect of a two-week break in Korea before the all-important LIV Golf Promotions event in Abu Dhabi from 8-10 December, Kim is happy to be playing all four days as he looks to capitalise on a first-round bye which means three rounds in two days to secure one of three golden tickets onto the lucrative LIV Golf League next season.
He said: “I’ve started to play much better, I’ve tried to figure things out, and I found something on the practice round, on the last three or four holes. I tried it out yesterday, it’s a bit of trial and error, but it is much better.
“I hadn’t made a cut in a while and it is always good to play four rounds and get some experience under my belt. I need some confidence, getting to the cut today and making the weekend is important.
“Winning is not really on my mind right now, I just want to the good things I work on at the range to pan out on the course – I’m just concentrating on that and executing my shots.”
Kim is a fan of the teams format included in the LIV Golf League set-up, and confirmed his former team-mates at Iron Heads GC – skipper Kevin Na, International Series Order of Merit 2022 winner Scott Vincent and Danny Lee – are rooting for him to find his way back at the first time of asking.
“Oh yes, Kevin and Danny and Scott have been really supportive of me, they have been really good. We have great camaraderie and hopefully we will be back with LIV. They are three class players. I’ve just got to play, make the cut out there and then it’s all about 36 holes on the final day for promotion.”
Despite a difficult 2023 season, Kim is taking inspiration from team-mate Vincent. The Zimbabwean had claimed his place last season by winning the inaugural International Series Order of Merit crown, and he secured his berth for next season by finishing in the Top 24 thanks to a T3 in LIV Golf Jeddah and a fourth-placed finish at LIV Golf Singapore.
Kim added: “It has been good., obviously a lot of the players at LIV are very good, the top 20 or so are top class players, and I just didn’t play well enough. It is good that Scott made the top 24 – it shows that when you have got the game, you can keep your card. Obviously there is a top 20 or 30 players there who are top-class.”
Piot is another hoping to make a quick return. The American, also on three under after a second-round 68, highlighted the influence of captain Phil Mickelson as one of the reasons why he would “love to get back there”
The 25-year-old said: “Phil was great to me last year, anything that I had a question about he was always happy to help and give me advice. Even when I was sitting there hitting balls he was like ‘hey man have you ever thought about this?’ and stuff like that which is over and beyond what I expected out of him.
“Obviously LIV is world class; no one treats you better than the LIV Golf League, it was amazing how well they treat the players and how much you enjoy the tour so I would obviously love to get back there.”
Of the pathway offered to players finishing up the rankings on the International Series Order of Merit, he added: “Obviously, the Asian Tour is phenomenal – the events are run great.
“You get to see the world, you get to go to some cool places so I’ve loved it being out here and on top of it the competition level is top class, so having that ability to earn your way to LIV through the Asian Tour is a fantastic opportunity for all guys out there.”
Of his plan for this weekend, he added: “Just go low, keep it going, a lot of birdies!”
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