Tom Kim a fresh face for Internationals in Presidents Cup

  • Adam Scott, of Australia, Tom Kim and Hideki Matsuyama, of Japan, walk up the fifth fairway during practice for the Presidents Cup golf tournament at the Quail Hollow Club, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Tom Kim can be excused for his mistake Wednesday. The Presidents Cup is new for the 20-year-old South Korean, just like it is for seven other players on the International team that face a daunting task at Quail Hollow.

Only this was more a math mistake than a rookie mistake.

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“We’re on 12 today, and he makes a mistake doing simple math there,” said Camilo Villegas of Colombia, one of the assistant captains for the International team. “So I look at the kid and said, ‘Tom, is that college math?’ He looks at me and goes, ‘Dude, I didn’t even graduate from high school.’”

At age 20, Kim is the youngest player to play for the International team since Ryo Ishikawa of Japan was 18 in 2009 at Harding Park.

Kim also has won more tournaments this year than anyone on his team.

And he brings as much personality as he does game. He likes to laugh and talk trash. The team has players from seven countries who speak four languages. That’s not a problem. Kim speaks three languages.

Captain Trevor Immelman was asked earlier in the week who would be his starting five if they were playing basketball. He had Kim penciled in as his point guard because of his size and his “fast mouth.”

Kim’s given name is Joohyung. As a boy, he was so smitten with Thomas the Tank Engine that he wanted that for his name, and eventually it was shortened to Tom.

Born in South Korea, his family moved to Australia when he was a child. He picked up golf at age 6 and when the cost of living became too high, his parents decided to move to the Philippines. Kim’s golf thrived even more.

As for the high school math? As he said in a first-person account for Golf Digest, “College scouts weren’t coming after me, and my goal was always to turn pro, so I decided to do it early.” He was 15.

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