The past five weeks feel like three months for 20-year-old Johyung “Tom” Kim, and for a good reason. A South Korean kid named after a cartoon train is on a fast track.
Standing on the Korean Tour points list earned him a rare PGA Tour start at the Scottish Open, hoping to do well enough to get a shot at the Korn Ferry Tour Finals.
Now he’s a PGA Tour winner ranked number 21 in the world and headed to the FedEx Cup playoffs, and he can probably count on a spot with the international team in the Presidents Cup.
All aboard with Tom the Train! “It’s been a crazy month,” Kim said.
He announced his arrival on the PGA Tour at the Wyndham Championship, where he began the tournament with a quadruple-bogey 8 and finished it with a 9-under 61 for a five-shot victory.
“I’m happy for Tom,” said Sungjae Im, who completed the rain-delayed third round Sunday morning with a one-shot lead and couldn’t keep up with Kim because no one could. Kim shot 27 on the front nine, left everyone in his wake.“He’s a great kid, and to come out here and to win on tour as a nonmember and secure your card is not an easy task, and he achieved that,” Im said.
Kim, who turned 20 in June, is the second-youngest winner on the PGA Tour since World War II. Jordan Spieth was two weeks away from turning 20 when he won the 2013 John Deere Classic.
The victory gave Kim instant membership on the PGA Tour, making him eligible for the FedEx Cup playoffs that start next week. He is No. 34, assured of playing two postseason events and with a reasonable shot at getting to the finale at East Lake.
Im had a 68 and tied for second along with John Huh (67).
Kim spent his developmental years in the Philippines and in Australia. He already had won three times on the Asian Development Tour and once in Korea before making his American debut at age 18 in the 2020 PGA Championship at Harding Park.
As for the name? He was a big fan as a young boy of Thomas the Tank Engine in the TV series “Thomas & Friends.”
“You’re supposed to let your parents name yourself, and I was like, ‘Nope, I’m to name myself Thomas.’ I loved the show as a kid. I haven’t watched it or anything, but apparently, I loved the train.”
The other option would have been Buzz Lightyear if he was a big “Toy Story” fan. That would have worked. The kid is creating quite the buzz, and he’s light years ahead of others his age.
Only Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia were younger when they reached as high as No. 21 in the world ranking.
Kim finished third in the Scottish Open, the first time co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour, and his goal was to get enough FedEx Cup points to finish equal to the top 200, so he could earn his card through a series of Korn Ferry Tour events late in the summer.
He earned special temporary PGA Tour membership when he made the cut at the British Open. He secured a PGA Tour card last week with a seventh-place finish in the Rocket Mortgage Classic. The stress was gone, and not even an opening quadruple bogey rattled him.