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Wednesday, Dec 11, 2019

Korean kid Joohyung Kim strings surreal win

What he was clear about was the hardships his parents had gone through to ensure their widely travelled son got here and added one more destination of note to his short but eventful career.

other-sports Updated: Nov 17, 2019 19:48 IST
Robin Bose
Robin Bose
Hindustan Times, Mewat
Joohyung Kim of Korea, 17 yrs old pictured with the winner’s trophy.
Joohyung Kim of Korea, 17 yrs old pictured with the winner’s trophy.(Paul Lakatos/Asian Tour)
         

At 17, a win on any professional tour is surreal. If the result is historic, like Joohyung Kim’s, the second youngest to win on the Asian Tour, stringing the thoughts is not easy. Seated next to the Panasonic Open trophy in the winner’s jacket, Kim said the mind was a mix of a “lot of kid thoughts”. What he was clear about was the hardships his parents had gone through to ensure their widely travelled son got here and added one more destination of note to his short but eventful career.

Kim was born in Korea, lived in Australia, Philippines and now Thailand; won in Malaysia, Indonesia and Pakistan on the Asian Development Tour (ADT), and his first title on the main tour has come at the Classic Golf and Country Club. There is confidence that he will go a long way but “this (one-shot win) will always be special.”

To balance golf and studies, Kim was home-schooled in the lead-up to his professional career, but with a busy schedule on the ADT this season, lessons became irregular. Whenever home, the attempt still is to “learn as much as possible as school is important”. It was the recent lessons on the golf course that came handy for the boy on Sunday.

But for the struggle on the final three holes in the lead-up to this week in Indonesia and Thailand, Kim could have had his breakthrough win on the Asian Tour earlier, but those experiences of falling short left him scarred but wiser. The crucial chip-in on the 16th for par kept him in the neck-and-neck race with Shiv Kapur and the card flawless. He finished at seven-under 65 after trailing the leaders by four shots at the start of the day.

For Kapur, it was heartbreak for the second week running after the loss in a playoff in Thailand. Leading by a shot after the 17th, Kapur’s awry tee shot and the subsequent double bogey reconfirmed the sport’s uncertainties, of which Kapur has seen enough in a 15-year pro career. “Till last week, I was not part of any talk (after a poor season) and then played six good holes (on the final day) to get back (into the play-off). After the slip-up on Sunday, the flight to home in Dubai would have been spent in deep thought.

Kim too will think about the opportunities that open after this week, but not for a moment did he forget where the desire to join the pro ranks was born. From Philippines to Australia, there are quite a few instances but the close encounter with Tiger Woods is cherished the most. “Tiger was going to the washroom and here I was five feet away in a trademark TW oversized cap. I shouted, ‘go Tiger’ and he tipped his cap and smiled,” he said. After Sunday, Kim too can talk of a following that is set to grow in the coming times.

Top final scores

203: Joohyung Kim (70, 68, 65)

204: Chikkarangappa S (69, 68, 67); Shiv Kapur (67, 67, 70)

205: Terry Pilkadaris (66, 68, 71)

206: Rory Hie (70, 68, 68); Vikrant Chopra (67, 70, 69); Hung Chien-yao (67, 69, 70)