Sihwan Kim (golfari.fi/Kai Kilappa) ()
Sihwan Kim is hoping that his superb recent form can translate into a maiden European Challenge Tour victory at the Rolex Trophy, where he finished runner-up behind Kristoffer Broberg last time out at Golf Club de Genève.
The Korean has claimed three top five finishes in his last five appearances on the Challenge Tour, including a tied-runner up finish at the Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge in France.
That run might well have continued two weeks ago at the Finnish Challenge, where he atoned for a round of 84 on the third day – when he incurred a multiple-shot penalty for mistakenly thinking that preferred lies were in operation – with a course-record final round of 63 at Kytäjä Golf near Helsinki.
Kim will return to Switzerland feeling fresh after a two-week break back in his native Asia, and the 24 year old is relishing the prospect of competing for one of the most prestigious titles of the campaign, which in the last two years has sealed automatic promotion to The European Tour for the winners: first Benjamin Hebert in 2011, and later Kristoffer Broberg in 2012.
“It’s good to have two weeks off and then come into tournament where there is no cut, because I can swing a little more freely,” said the Seoul man. “I do get a little nervous when I come back after a little break, even though I have been playing well, but it just helps me a lot not having a cut.
“We’ll see about a win. Obviously my last week in Finland was a little bizarre, but I have been playing pretty good golf so hopefully that win is in the near future.”
The challenging layout at the Geneva venue, mixed with the Pro-Am format and the glamorous evening meals – when a jacket and tie are compulsory – make for a unique experience at the Rolex Trophy.
Kim revelled in the atmosphere of the final day last year and cannot wait to return to a course which he believes suits his game, proving as much last year with rounds of 66-64-66-66 and the best result of his maiden season on the Challenge Tour.
“It’s a different format and it’s fun,” he said. “Last year I got pretty lucky with my group. The guys I played with on the last day, every time I made a birdie they were cheering me on so it made things work and it was fun.
“It’s a place where you have to leave yourself in good spots and you have to putt well, and I have been doing that for the last three or four weeks. If that continues, I’m going to have a pretty good chance.”
François Calmels, meanwhile, will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of Hebert and Broberg by claiming that all-important third victory of the season, which would seal automatic promotion to The European Tour.
Joining the Frenchman and Kim at the Rolex Trophy will be 35 others from the top 40 in the Challenge Tour Rankings. Brooks Koepka, the current Number One, is among those absent as he is now plying his trade on The European Tour following three victories this season; whilst Mark Tullo, Morten Ørum Madsen and Seven Benson have also opted to play the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.
The field includes former European Tour winners Rhys Davies and José-Filipe Lima, whilst Byeong-hun An, the youngest winner of the US Amateur Championship, is one of the many rising stars in attendance.