For this week’s player blog we caught up with the European Tour’s newest member, Kim Koivu.
Having only turned professional at the end of December last year, the 27 year old has made a sharp rise through the paid ranks, having won three times on the European Challenge Tour to seal an early promotion to Europe’s top tier last month.
Ahead of his second appearance as a full member this week, the Finn talks about his path into the game, his goals for the season and spending time in the military.
Like all Finns, I had to do my national military service. I actually played great golf that year. When you're a professional athlete they let you out to practice. We were part of the special forces which sounds a lot cooler than it actually was, but we did work hard walking 60 kilometres a day with 40 kilos on your back!
I turned professional at the age of 26, so quite late. After only starting golf at the age of 16 I was very late to competing. The reason for joining the professional ranks relatively late was due to a big swing change which took me about four years to implement. I was an ok player at college but knew that I had to make these changes if I wanted to compete later down the line. It probably took longer than it should have as I wanted to still compete during the changes. Now I'm very close to getting where I want to be.
After my first event on the Challenge Tour I felt confident. In Kenya I was able to gauge the level and what I had to do to compete out here, leaving me feeling fairly confident ahead of the rest of the season. I think it was in Turkey two events later where I felt I figured things out and grew in confidence. Of course, I never thought I could win three times in a season but as the season progressed it became a reality.
To win early helps a lot. I won in China in April and that allowed me to plan my schedule. It's taken a while to adjust to travelling week to week though. I think I had a stretch of six weeks on the road this season and it takes a while to know how best to keep energised. The days on Tour are lengthy, often leaving little time in the evenings to explore the places we visit.
It's great to have other Finns on Tour. Guys like Mikko Korhonen and Mikko Ilonen, who of course has been out on the European Tour for a very long time, are great to learn from - I had dinner with Mikko the other night which was great. Tapio Pulkkanen is another, and it is great to have a group of us out here.
To play in Crans last week was awesome. The whole week was spectacular. You need a little bit of experience to play well on that golf course, and although I struggled it was a great learning experience.
I'm looking forward to the new places I'll visit next year on the European Tour. Australia is the place I made my first professional start and I have always enjoyed the way of life over there. Hong Kong and South Africa are places I've never been so that will be amazing too.
I set myself ten goals at the start of the season. One of them was a scoring average of 70.5 or lower, another was to win on the Challenge Tour and to gain experience on the European Tour. I had a number of greens, a number of fairways and a number of putts that I wanted to make too. There are a few goals which I still have - let’s see if I can make them all this year.
You can follow Kim on Instagram & Facebook.