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When Si Woo Kim’s rolled in the winning putt at THE PLAYERS Championship, his young golfing career was taken to a whole new level, although the victory was seen as a bit of a shock to many, considering his form leading up to the much-heralded event. His T22 finish at the Valero Texas Open the week prior to THE PLAYERS was his best of the season, one in which he has endured five missed cuts and three withdrawals, due to a niggling wrist injury. But the 21-year old, who also won last year’s Wyndham Championship, outlasted the deepest field in golf with a confidence that belied his age, and his impressive victory now puts him in strong position to make his Presidents Cup debut later this year. Kim recently shared his thoughts on the whirlwind of recent events, as he relaxed as his Dallas residence:
KQ: Have you had time to reflect on your incredible performance at TPC Sawgrass?
SWK: To be honest, it hasn’t fully hit me yet. I am slowly taking in the joy of the victory through the congratulatory and encouraging words coming from my family and friends.
Holding the record for the youngest ever winner must feel extra special?
Of course being the youngest winner is a massive honor, even more so that it occurred in such a huge tournament. But aren’t records there just to be broken at some time?
Did you make any significant changes to your game prior THE PLAYERS?
Yes, I changed my putting grip following my father’s advice right after the Masters.
Your back and wrist injuries must feel a lot better now?
Yes, I have fully recovered now, after taking a few days rest at my Dallas residence.
You seemed so relaxed throughout the final day. Was that the case?
As I begun to move up the leader board in the third round, I started to gain trust in my shots and was able to play with increasing levels of confidence. But the final day was certainly far from being stress-free!
At what stage did you start to realize that you were going to win?
The first time I got the genuine feeling that I could win came after my birdie on the 7th hole. My confidence definitely was on the upswing as I walked to the 8th tee box.
How did you celebrate on Sunday?
I got together with my family and sponsors to celebrate the win. It was extra special to have my father right there with me at a joyful moment like this. As a matter of fact, my whole family is very supportive and often attend tournaments that I compete in.
Did KJ Choi [winner of THE PLAYERS in 2011] offer up any specific advice to you prior to the final round?
Yes, KJ did offer me a lot of advice on how to attack the course and how to play out the final day in general.
With such a long list of rewards from this victory, which one do you feel is the most satisfying?
Apart from the prize money, being exempt on TOUR for five years is most satisfying. Also, getting a private locker at TPC Sawgrass is another big honor [in the Champions Locker Room].
You are now in a very strong position for Presidents Cup automatic qualification. How excited are you to tee it up for the International Team at Liberty National?
Of course, I am very excited. Any player looks forward to taking part in this tournament, myself included. Unfortunately, I did not attend the 2015 Presidents Cup in Korea, but I have played on the Korean National team as an amateur. To be a part of the Presidents Cup team later this year would be a great honor for me.
What else is on your list of goals for the future?
This victory has given me the opportunity to reassess and improve my goals. It has given me the opportunity to compete in all of the upcoming Majors and the self-confidence to try and perform well in these tournaments. My goal now is to pursue another victory.
You're still only 21, but now a multiple winner on the PGA TOUR. What do you hope for the rest of 2017?
I hope to play out the rest of the season with strong performances on the course and remain injury-free.
You stated that you will fulfill your military service duties, but will you try and win a medal at Tokyo 2020 to become exempt from this?
It is always a great honor to represent my country and Tokyo 2020 is another opportunity to do this. If I do qualify for the next Olympics, my goal will be to win the gold medal.
What advice would you offer up to Korean golfers of a similar age hoping to follow in your footsteps?
Golf can be a very lonely game. It is necessary to practice regularly so that your body and mind can cope with the various challenges that you will face on and off the course.
What’s the best advice you have ever received about your golf game?
My father told me to remain humble at all times. It is good advice, because it has helped me keep my feet on the ground.
Finally, what would it mean to be a part of a winning team at the Presidents Cup?
Team USA is always going to be strong opposition, and this year will be no different. Just being able to play with such excellent players would be an incredible experience, but if we can win, that would be the icing on the cake!
Special thanks to Ethan Kim from the CJ Corporation for assisting with this interview.
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