Golf: Kim wants to end season on a high at S'pore International, SMBC S'pore Open

The rising star, whose last competition was the Laguna Phuket Championship in early December 2021, is third on the Tour's Merit list. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Well-rested after a month-long break, South Korean golfer Kim Joo-hyung is focused on ending the Asian Tour season on a high and topping its Order of Merit.

The rising star, whose last competition was the Laguna Phuket Championship in early December 2021, is third on the Tour's Merit list and just over US$31,000 (S$41,900) behind leader Wade Ormsby (US$250,553.65) of Australia.

Thailand's Phachara Khwongwatmai is second with US$240,650.

Victory at the US$1 million Singapore International, which starts on Thursday (Jan 13) at Tanah Merah Country Club (TMCC), and the season-ending Jan 20-23 SMBC Singapore Open will certainly boost his chances of leapfrogging his rivals.

He said: "It's a great chance. Two big events, two last big events so hopefully I'll get a chance this week and play well enough to give me a chance next week as well.

The 19-year-old added: "I stayed a week in Thailand with the family and got back to Korea. It's actually pretty cold so it's really nice to be out in Singapore with a shirt on and some nice heat.

"My game's kind of rusty but I'm just trying to get it dialled in before Thursday morning or Thursday afternoon."

At the end of last year, Kim finished joint-second and join-seventh in the Blue Canyon Phuket Championship 2021 and Laguna Phuket Championship 2021.

"I guess I have just been keeping the competitive fire," said Kim, who in 2019 won in just his third start on the Asian Tour at the Panasonic Open in India.

"I've played a lot of events last year and I just kept on playing and I worked hard on my game, and I knew my game really well, so hopefully I can do that second and top 10 again these two weeks."

The Singapore International is the first major international tournament to be held at the TMCC's Tampines Course since its revamp in 2018 and Kim is not expecting things to be easy.

Also competing at the tournament are Thailand's Jazz Janewattananond and Phachara Khongwatmai, Malaysia's Gavin Green, and India's Shubhankar Sharma.

All of Singapore's top players will compete including Gregory Foo, Abdul Hadi Uda Thith, Koh Dengshan, Jesse Yap and Choo Tze Huang.

Kim said: "I first took a look yesterday for nine holes and the course with the wind and the layout in general. I feel like it's going to be tough for all the players this week.

"You really have to take advantage when you can and really stick to the game plan for all 18 holes. There's not really much escape on this course, so you need to get dialled in and I'm looking forward to it."

For the Singapore International and SMBC Singapore Open, all foreign-based players, caddies, and officials will be subject to the current government regulations and requirements for travel to Singapore.

All participants will also be required to undergo the necessary tests such as pre-departure Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, on-arrival PCR test, and daily antigen rapid test for seven days.

Only invited corporate guests will be able to attend the event and they will be required to undergo pre-event testing.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.