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3 S. Korean players looking to strike it rich at final PGA Tour playoff event

Aug. 22, 2023 - 09:42 By Yonhap
In this Getty Images photo, Kim Si-woo of South Korea reacts to his tee shot on the fourth hole during the second round of the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields Country Club in Olympia Fields, Illinois, Aug.18. (AFP-Yonhap)

A trio of South Korean players will be among the last 30 left standing as the PGA Tour's annual playoffs draw to a conclusion this week.

Tom Kim, Im Sung-jae and Kim Si-woo all ranked inside the top 30 in the FedEx Cup standings after the end of the second playoff event, the BMW Championship, on Sunday in Olympia Fields, Illinois, and earned themselves a ticket to the Tour Championship, which tees off Thursday in Atlanta.

There will be no cut in the exclusive-field event at East Lake Golf Club. The winner will be declared the FedEx Cup champion and take home US$18 million in bonus money. The runner-up will get $6.5 million. Even the last-place golfer will be guaranteed $500,000.

That runner-up prize money alone is more than what any of the three South Korean players has earned so far this season. Im leads the contingent with $6.4 million, followed by Tom Kim at $6.2 million and Kim Si-woo at $5.3 million.

In the FedEx Cup race, Tom Kim, whose Korean first name is Joo-hyung, led his countrymen at No. 16. He will be making his Tour Championship debut.

Im is at No. 17, after a top-10 showing at the BMW Championship. This is Im's fifth consecutive Tour Championship appearance, the longest such streak by a Korean player since the current playoff setup was put in place in 2007. Im also has more Tour Championship appearances than any South Korean player since 2007, breaking a tie with Choi Kyoung-ju.

Kim slipped to No. 20 in the FedEx Cup points but will still be making his second career Tour Championship appearance.

The two Kims have each won a tournament this season, but Im, a renowned workhorse with nine top-10 finishes this season, is winless since October 2021.

Im is rounding into form, with consecutive top-10s in the playoffs so far, but Im and his two compatriots will face an uphill climb to win the Tour Championship.

Under the "starting strokes" system adopted in 2019, players ranked higher in the FedEx Cup standings will enjoy a bigger advantage at the start of the Tour Championship.

For the second straight year, Scottie Scheffler is the FedEx Cup points leader going into the Tour Championship, and he will begin the tournament at 10-under. Viktor Hovland, No. 2, will start at eight-under.

Players ranked from 16th to 20th, including all three South Koreans, will open their Tour Championship at two-under.

Last year, Im began the Tour Championship at four-under but still finished tied for second place with Scheffler at 20-under, one behind the winner, Rory McIlroy. Im shot in the 60s in all four rounds at East Lake, while Scheffler stumbled to a 73 in the final round.

Tom Kim, who has two career victories at age 21, has shaken off a recent ankle injury and posted three top-10 finishes in his last four tournaments. Kim Si-woo, on the other hand, hasn't had a top-10 showing since June. (Yonhap)