Gurgaon, India: Multi-lingual teenage titan Kim Joo-hyung let his clubs do the talking as he became the second youngest Asian Tour winner when he fired a seven-under-par 65 to clinch the title at the US$400,000 Panasonic Open India by one shot.
Having earned his Asian Tour card for the remainder of the 2019 season after claiming three wins on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) this year, the 17-year-old, who’s fluent in English, Korean and Tagalog, showed he is ready for the big leagues.
“It has been a dream of mine to play on the Asian Tour ever since I was young. And it’s really wonderful to come here, be in contention and win. I cannot describe the feeling now. I’m still trying to learn every single step of the way,” said Korean-born Kim, who turned pro in May 2018 and was making only his third start on the Asian Tour this year.
Belying his tender years, Kim posted rounds of 70, 68 and 65 at the Classic Golf and Country Club for a winning total of 13-under-par 203 in the event that was shortened to 54 holes due to bad weather earlier in the week.
Reflecting on his achievements in 2019, Kim said: “The season has been great, especially coming back from my injuries and winning three times on the ADT … and now this victory. I’ve been playing well. Last week, I was one off the lead with two holes to play, but it didn’t quite work out the way I wanted then.
“So, going into today, I just tried to give myself as many chances as I could. I did that on the front-nine but I kind of struggled in my back-nine, knowing I was in contention. It was really windy today and I scrambled quite well. It was not easy to shoot a 65 under these conditions. But I managed to do it and now, I’m a winner!”
At 17 years and 149 days, Kim is the second youngest player to win on the Asian Tour. Thai Chinnarat Phadungsil holds the record at 17 years and five days when he won the Double A International Open in 2005.
In addition to his ADT wins at the PGM ADT Championship @ Tiara Melaka, the Ciputra Golfpreneur Tournament presented by Panasonic and the Raya Pakistan Open, Kim posted a third-place finish at the Bank BRI Indonesia Open and was tied-sixth at last week’s Thailand Open.
Kim, who has been living in Bangkok with his family for two years, has also recorded eight other top-10s on the ADT and All Thailand Golf Tour (ATGT) combined in 2019.
Before moving to Bangkok, Kim was based in the Philippines for about six years. He won the 2018 Philippine Amateur Open Championship and the 2018 W Express RVF Cup Amateur Championship before recording his first professional title on the Philippine Golf Tour in July 2018.
While Kim was celebrating, Shiv Kapur was left to ponder what might have been, denied another victory on home soil after a double-bogey seven on his closing hole. That meant he signed off with a 70 to finish one shot shy of Kim, in a share of second place with fellow-Indian Chikkarangappa S.