Now, more than five years later, his steady growth and maturity both on the course and off appear to be on full display. He earned back his card after two solid seasons on the Web.com Tour - which included a win at the 2015 Stonebrae Classic. Kim then reintroduced himself to the PGA TOUR with authority in 2016. His rookie season saw him advance all the way to the FedExCup Playoffs, becoming one of just two rookies to earn a spot in the TOUR Championship, joining eventual PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year Emiliano Grillo.
Kim’s rookie season was highlighted, of course, by his win at in Greensboro, which came, thanks in part, to a course-record, 10-under 60 in the second round. That 60 included eight birdies and an eagle. His 21-under 259 tied the course record and made him the youngest player to win on TOUR that season.
With first-win jitters out of the way, Kim notched his second victory the following year at THE PLAYERS, where he once again became that tournament’s youngest winner. He got up and down 10 times during a bogey-free Sunday round, went 16-for-22 in scrambling for the week and boldly opted to use his driver off the deck on the par-4 14th, 270 yards from the hole. That shot landed on the front part of the green, helping him make par.
The win made Kim one of only four players in the last 25 years with two tournament titles before his 22nd birthday, joining Woods, Sergio Garcia and Jordan Spieth.
“I was very proud of Si Woo, to see how he was focused and kept calm throughout the tournament,” said fellow South Korean K.J. Choi, an idol of Kim’s and the 2011 PLAYERS champion. “I really saw the bright future of Korean golf, to see a young guy like Si Woo win the PLAYERS Championship. I was really proud of him.”
It was Choi who aided Kim in his path to victory in Ponte Vedra Beach, as he provided valuable insight into the Stadium Course layout during practice, before sharing his own experience and emotions of being atop the leaderboard ahead of Kim’s final round. It’s no surprise, then, that the 47-year-old was one of the first to reach out to the burgeoning star following his victory.
“K.J. actually gave me a call after I won THE PLAYERS, and he congratulated me that way,” Kim recalled. “It’s such an honour and an amazing feeling to share that with another Korean, to have two Koreans win this tournament.
“When I went back to THE CJ CUP, I brought the trophy back to Korea, and we took a nice picture together. Going forward, I hope to win more tournaments for Korea. It’s just been an honour to share that with K.J.”