Following in the footsteps of his compatriot Byeong-hun An, Sihwan Kim has become the second Korean player to take up Challenge Tour membership and believes it is only a matter of time before more players from one of the world’s fastest growing golfing nations join them.
Kim, who is originally from Seoul but has lived in the USA since the age of 12, made the cut at The European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage at PGA Catalunya last December, earning him a full Challenge Tour card for 2012.
He made his first appearance at the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Classic last week and the 23 year old, who studied in Stanford University in California, thoroughly enjoyed the new experience.
“I missed out on a European Tour card at the Qualifying School,” said Kim, who finished tied 37th at Country Club de Barranquilla last week. “I thought I would give it a shot on the Challenge Tour and it’s been going well so far.
“The European Tour is a great tour. You get links courses, different countries, different climates and you can learn how to golf properly. A lot of the America-based players I know say the same thing.
“I’m good friends with Peter Uihlein and I talked to his dad (Walter Uihlein, CEO of major golf product manufacturer Acushnet). He said that when you start out in Europe, your game goes the right way and I think it’s true. It also gives you a real boost in terms of the Official World Golf Ranking. But it’s been really fun out here on the Challenge Tour so far and I’ve enjoyed it.”
Kim will be joined by his close friend An, who also moved from Seoul to the USA as a child and lives 20 minutes from him in Florida, on the Challenge Tour this year and he believes it is a tour which will become increasingly popular with his countrymen in the coming years.
“I really hope some more of the Korean guys follow me on to the Challenge Tour,” he said. “I know a couple of Korean PGA players who really want to play on The European Tour and there are a lot of guys who want to do the same as me.
“I think it would be a little bit of a culture shock for some because it’s different. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, it’s just a different type of golf and different cultures.
“It’s about giving yourself more opportunities to qualify for the big fields on the big tours so I think I made the right decision coming to the Challenge Tour.”