Tom Kim is back to defend his title at the Shriners Children’s Open.
At age 20, he fired 65-67-62-66 to win by three over TPC Summerlin stalwart Patrick Cantlay, as well as Matthew NeSmith in a tie for second.
Kim was solid across the board in his Las Vegas debut, particularly with his iron play and putting. He was third in the field in strokes gained tee-to-green (2.23 per round), fifth in SG approach (1.46), and third in SG putting (1.51).
He showed maturity and course management beyond his years going bogey-free for 72 holes. Whenever you join Tiger Woods in the same sentence, it’s usually a good thing. Kim became the first player since Woods in 1996 to win twice on the PGA Tour by age 21.
Kim even admitted to having a bad cough early in the week. What could he do this year assuming better health?
The game plan is to be aggressive.
"“Yeah, this course is very, very scorable so you’ve got to play good golf,” Kim was transcribed by ASAP Sports in 2022. “You’ve got to make a lot of birdies.”"
Kim comes to Nevada in fine form. While he’s yet to win since this point last year, we’ve seen far worse sophomore slumps than his.
Most recently, he’s on a streak of seven straight top-25s between the PGA Tour and DP World Tour, four of which were top-10s. We last saw Kim finish T-6th at the Cazoo Open de France in late September.
Last season on the PGA Tour, Kim was a positive in every strokes gained category. He’s not the longest hitter out there, but ranking 13th in SG approach (.589) can help gain ground on the big guns.
Perhaps Kim could get off the rails this year in Las Vegas now that he’s 21, but I envision his youthful exuberance will lead to a repeat tournament title.