It was in 2014 when a 19-year-old Hyo Joo Kim made history after shooting a 10 under 61 in the first round of the Amundi Evian Championship and taking the title after beating Karrie Webb with a birdie on the 72nd hole. When asked what she liked best about the event after her victory, Kim gave a classic teenager’s answer.
“I can drink a lot of water. (Evian) is expensive in Korea. “
Shortened to 7 years later, the almost 26-year-old has collected 10 more professional victories in the LPGA and KLPGA tours since that first major, including the HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore earlier this season. She is now the fourth member of the prestigious Korean Olympic golf team, ousting two-time major winner So Yeon Ryu, who joins the elite company of Jin Young Ko, In-bee Park and Sei Young Kim.
After Kim took a year off from LPGA Tour competition during the COVID-19 pandemic, Kim flew under the radar to secure the final Olympic spot for the Korean team. Considering she didn’t make the squad for the 2016 Games, she is well aware of the size of the moment. It is nice to realize a lifelong dream, but it is a duty for Kim to continue the tradition of excellence that is so synonymous with Korean golf.
“I am very proud and honored to represent the Republic of Korea at the Olympics, a lifelong dream as an athlete and something I only saw on TV in 2016,” said Kim. “I also feel responsible for building the reputation of women’s golf in Korea by performing well at the Olympic Games.”
But there’s an even deeper gratitude to her fans that drove Kim to this moment. Crediting her Shooting Star fan club for helping her succeed at KLPGA, she says her overseas support gave her a lot of confidence before returning to the LPGA Tour, knowing that she was Will be cheering them on from afar in Tokyo, trying their best to return the positive energy.
“When I played at KLPGA last year, the Shooting Star fan club and many others cheered me on and helped me win those tournaments,” said Kim. “I definitely gathered a lot of energy this year before I returned to the LPGA.
“As a representative of my country, I would like to do my best to cheer up the Korean people, especially in the current difficult situation with COVID-19. I know my fan club has been waiting to see me play at the Olympics, and I’m looking forward to fulfilling not only their wish, but also my lifelong dream. “
Carrying the weight of a nation on a global stage as big as the Olympics is a big job, but Kim doesn’t seem to mind. In fact, she’s just as happy to play for them as she is to compete, and with her fans right behind her, she’ll be shooting for the stars in Tokyo and not really missing out.