Weekly Recap: Wyndham Windfall

Weekly Recap: Wyndham Windfall

This article is part of our Weekly Recap series.

It was a little more than a year ago that we started to hear rumblings about a teenager tearing up the Korean Tour. He was in contention almost every week. He was zooming up the world rankings, finally pushing his way inside the top 100 early this year with a win at something called The Singapore International.

What Joohyung Kim was doing was not uncommon. Numerous golfers on the various Asian tours had broken into the top 100. But then they mostly crumbled in bigger worldwide tournaments opposite much stronger competition. 

Kim proved to be different almost immediately upon his arrival in the United States, and now the 20-year-old will be competing against the world's best on a regular basis after running away with the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club.

Kim's five-shot victory over Sungjae Im and John Huh, fueled by a closing 9-under 61, not only gave him full playing privileges for next season but catapulted him into the FedExCup Playoffs despite being a non-member on the PGA Tour.

Kim turned 20 less than two months ago, by which time he was already showing he was the best Asian arrival since Im. Kim -- who prefers to be called Tom Kim, an homage to his love of the Thomas and Friends train toys -- tied for 17th at the Byron Nelson in May in his first foray Stateside. In June, he notched a top-25 at the U.S. Open. In July, he tied for third at the loaded

It was a little more than a year ago that we started to hear rumblings about a teenager tearing up the Korean Tour. He was in contention almost every week. He was zooming up the world rankings, finally pushing his way inside the top 100 early this year with a win at something called The Singapore International.

What Joohyung Kim was doing was not uncommon. Numerous golfers on the various Asian tours had broken into the top 100. But then they mostly crumbled in bigger worldwide tournaments opposite much stronger competition. 

Kim proved to be different almost immediately upon his arrival in the United States, and now the 20-year-old will be competing against the world's best on a regular basis after running away with the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club.

Kim's five-shot victory over Sungjae Im and John Huh, fueled by a closing 9-under 61, not only gave him full playing privileges for next season but catapulted him into the FedExCup Playoffs despite being a non-member on the PGA Tour.

Kim turned 20 less than two months ago, by which time he was already showing he was the best Asian arrival since Im. Kim -- who prefers to be called Tom Kim, an homage to his love of the Thomas and Friends train toys -- tied for 17th at the Byron Nelson in May in his first foray Stateside. In June, he notched a top-25 at the U.S. Open. In July, he tied for third at the loaded Scottish Open and then last week tied for seventh at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

With the Wyndham win, he's up to No. 21 in the world, and only two golfers have reached that lofty status at a younger age: Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia. Kim is also the youngest winner ever at the Wyndham Championship, the youngest winner on Tour since 19-year-old Jordan Spieth in 2013 and the youngest winner born outside the United States since, as you'll surely recall, 19-year-old Harry Cooper in 1923.

Kim also was the first golfer to ever win a tournament after opening with a quadruple bogey, which he did with an eight on Thursday. By the end of the day he was 3-under.

How is Kim so good at such a young age? Well, his putter is pretty lethal. He gained a surreal 12.5 strokes on the field on the Sedgefield greens.

The one thing we have to watch out for with Kim is his length off the tee. He ranked 138th at Sedgefield. That didn't hurt him there. Most of the courses he has done well at do not offer a huge advantage to the longer hitters, not counting the U.S. Open.

Kim -- who was born in Seoul but speaks fluent English after spending seven years in Australia -- will almost surely be a part of the International Team at the upcoming Presidents Cup. The tournament will be contested at uber-long Quail Hollow next month.

But first we'll see Kim this week at the FedEx St. Jude Championship and then the BMW Championship. Slotted 34th out of the 125 golfers in the playoffs based on how many non-member points he accrued, Kim has a good chance to qualify for the TOUR Championship. We'll also see him plenty in the years ahead, as his win earned him a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour.

If you're wondering whether Kim could be lured by LIV, he said that won't happen. He said his lifelong dream was to play on the PGA Tour.

And now, even though his life has not been that long, Kim is living his dream.

MONDAY BACKSPIN

FedExCup Standings
Two guys moved into the top 125, one of them being Kim. It's usually two or three a year, so this was normal. The other guy was Max McGreevy, who began the week at No. 126. He picked a good time for his second best result in this, his PGA Tour rookie season, tying for fifth to zoom all the way to 102nd. The 27-year-old Oklahoma splendidly navigated the pressure of potentially losing his card, ranking sixth in the field in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and leading the field in fairways hit. The two players falling out of the top 125 were Matt Wallace and Austin Smotherman, both of whom missed the cut. It was especially cruel for Wallace, because the only way for him to have missed out on the playoffs was for Kim to win. Both guys now have the option of trying to keep their cards via the upcoming Korn Ferry Tour Finals.

Sungjae Im
Im was secure through to the TOUR Championship even before tying for second. He's now moved from 15th to 10th in the standings. It was a great season for the still-only 24-year-old. He won once, way back in October at the Shriners event, plus finished second twice among his eight top-10s. Most noticeably, Im played only 23 times so far this season, and presumably will get to 26, which is far short of the 35 times he played in his first two full seasons, not including the pandemic-altered 2019-2020 campaign.

John Huh
Huh opened with a 9-under 61 and never went away while tying Im for second. He moved from 111th in the standings all the way to 66th, giving him a good chance to stick around for the BMW Championship in two weeks.

Ben Griffin
Griffin might be the next star to emerge from the Korn Ferry Tour. He's fifth in the KF standings, so he'll be on the PGA Tour next season. The 26-year-old North Carolina alum got in on a sponsor's invite and finished solo fourth thanks to twin 64s on the weekend. It was just his fifth PGA Tour start. Griffin hasn't won on the KF Tour this season, but he does have three runners-up.

Russell Henley
Henley tied for fifth to move from 41st to 32nd in the standings.  That means he has a real chance to get to the TOUR Championship. With Henley, it's all about how many putts he makes. He ranked 58th in the field in that department at the Wyndham.

Taylor Moore
Moore had an all-or-nothing rookie season on Tour, but it was more than enough to ensure a sophomore campaign. In 26 starts he had 10 top-25s but also 10 missed cuts. He closed the regular season in spectacular fashion, following up a tie for sixth at the Rocket Mortgage Classic with a tie for fifth at the Wyndham. Moore moved from 76th in the standings at the start of the week to 64th, meaning he likely will reach the BMW Championship. Moore was one of RotoWire's Sleeper Picks at the start of the season, and we'd have to say he delivered.

Anirban Lahiri
Lahiri tied for eighth, moving from 70th to 62nd in the standings and virtually assuring himself at least two playoff events.

Brandon Wu
Wu also tied for eighth, and in his rookie season on Tour he now sits 70th in the standings. He will need to make the cut and more in Memphis to stay alive for the BMW Championship.

Cameron Percy
The 48-year-old Aussie has less than two years remaining before becoming Champions Tour-eligible. He didn't finish in the top 125 this season, but he made an important move at the Wyndham nonetheless. Percy tied for eighth to move from 158th in the standings to 142nd, locking him into that important 126-150 category.

Will Zalatoris
Zalatoris switched caddies after Friday's round, shot 66-68 on the weekend and wound up tied for 21st. He was the top-priced guy on the DraftKings board and didn't come close to justifying his ranking. Zalatoris is much better suited to longer, more difficult tracks like TPC Southwind, which will host the playoff opener. That's when we'll see Zalatoris debut with his new caddie.

Rickie Fowler
Fowler missed the cut and had to sweat out the weekend before learning he was the last man in the playoffs. That's not much to write home about for the former fourth-ranked golfer in the world, but after missing the playoffs last season, this is at least a step forward. Fowler would've kept his card regardless, as he was already exempt through next season.

Danny Willett
Willett was living a charmed life the past five years, exempt on the PGA Tour thanks to his 2016 Masters win. That five-year window just closed with a missed cut. Willett has the option to go to the Korn Ferry Tour Finals to try to keep his card.

Webb Simpson
Simpson's game has fallen off a cliff. The virtual annual lock for a Wyndham top-5 withdrew with one hole to play on Friday when there was a rain delay and he would've had to come back Saturday morning to complete his round. He withdrew because he was going to miss the cut. So, if Simpson couldn't get his first top-10 of 2022 at the Wyndham, where could he? It's unlikely that will happen in Memphis. Simpson was named a Presidents Cup vice captain last week, so his career seems to be in transition.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Len Hochberg
Len Hochberg has covered golf for RotoWire since 2013. A veteran sports journalist, he was an editor and reporter at The Washington Post for many years. He was named 2020 "DFS Writer of the Year" by the FSWA and was nominated for the same award in 2019.
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