LA QUINTA, Calif. — It’s no surprise that the courses at PGA West in La Quinta are among the favorite courses Si Woo Kim plays as a member of the PGA Tour. Success at PGA West has bookended Kim’s professional career.
In 2012, a 17-year-old Kim earned his Tour card at the qualifying tournament held at PGA West, even though he had to wait until he turned 18 to officially join the Tour. In 2021, a 25-year-old Kim had even bigger success at PGA West, shooting a clutch final-round 64 to earn a one-shot win in The American Express.
Speaking to the media in English rather than the Korean he used after winning the tournament last year, Kim said he is comfortable returning to La Quinta as the defending champion.
“It’s not that different, but I have more confidence always (coming) back to defend,” Kim said. “So that’s why I think my confidence is more good. So I play, just play like last year, I hope, and, yeah, it’s nothing different much.”
Si Woo Kim poses with the winner’s trophy after the final round of The American Express at PGA West Peter Dye Stadium Course. (Photo: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports)
The American Express victory was the third for Kim on the PGA Tour and was easily his best performance of the 2020-21 season. With an off-season to work on his game, Kim has focused on gaining greater distance. For Kim, that means trying to increase his ball speed from 170 to 173 mph to a new target of 178 to 185 mph.
“I don’t have that speed still, but I was like always hit it hard, like 115 to 117 swing speed and ball speed was like 170 to 173,” Kim said. “But I try really hard (with) speed training just to me, but it’s now like 120 to 123 swing speed.”
Kim’s victory last year came in the face of a remarkable Sunday comeback by Patrick Cantlay, who shot a competitive course record of 11-under 61 on the Pete Dye Stadium Course. Kim, playing behind Cantlay, was aware of Cantlay’s charge.
“I was one back (of) Patrick like before the 16th, so I know that I had to make birdie,” Kim said. “So 16, always had a big chance to make birdie because par-5 and reachable and I tried to be aggressive at 16 and so it works.
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“And then 17 and 18, kind of tough holes because all the water there, so I was worried about the last tee shot,” Kim added. “But I made birdie on the 17th (a 20-foot putt), so that makes me more comfortable and I just play defensively, like last hole.”
Coming back to the desert, Kim said he hopes for more than just added distance off the tee for The American Express as he tries to become just the second player in the 63-year history of the tournament to win in consecutive years. Johnny Miller won the title in 1975 and 1976.
By: Larry Bohannan
Title: Si Woo Kim happy to be back at ‘comfortable' American Express as defending champion
Sourced From: golfweek.usatoday.com/2022/01/20/si-woo-kim-comfortable-return-american-express/
Published Date: Thu, 20 Jan 2022 12:00:21 +0000