BROOKLINE, MA – Golfer Kevin Na needs to send fellow professional and countryman Joohyung Kim an attachÃ© case, or couple cases of Chilean wine, or something hip and trendy and extravagant – whatever it is – as a token of gratitude for Kim’s dethroning Na as professional golf’s slowest golfer.
Colloquially known to his friends and colleagues as “Tom,” Kim’s pre-shot routine is longer than Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Seeming to never start preparing to hit the ball as other golfers are playing their shots, Kim was timed by some members of the attendant media to the tune of 57 seconds, 63 seconds, and even 67 seconds between it being his turn to play a shot and him finally striking the golf ball. The anywhere between five and nine (NINE!) practice swings per shot are bad enough, but throw in at least two, sometimes three or more step backs, a fistful of head bobs and peeks, a few wiping-the-club-heads, and several waggles each shot and you need not wonder why his group – which included Irish wunderkind Seamus Power and Australian star Min Woo Lee – was put on the clock after a mere seven holes on Thursday.
Somehow they managed to not get penalized, but again on Friday Kim, who should forever be known as “Takes Too Long Tom” was again dragging the group with his fidgety, interminable routine. Talk, look, talk some more, look some more, draw a club, practice swing-practice swing-practice swing, look, wipe the club, look againâ€¦
â€¦Change clubsâ€¦start all over again.
“Are you kidding me?!” gasped one exasperated fan following the group on the seventh fairway.
It’s water torture: 18 grueling, unending, nerve-rattling, teeth grinding, patience shredding holes of totally unnecessary water torture.
“Poor Seamus Power,” observed another fan watching the action at the eighth green, where Kim needed a ruling and a drop out of thick fescue before trying a delicate pitch to a treacherous pin. “He’ll have time for a sandwich, dessert, and coffee before it’s his turn again,” and he was wrong. Power had time to a couple innings of a Red Sox game.
Kim fired rounds of 72 and 68 for an EVEN-par score halfway through the tournament, meaning someone is going be riding his slow train tomorrow and again on Sunday. For good or ill, he looks to be a rising international star and a potential fixture on the pro tours at the highest level. He won the 2021 Asian Order of Merit after 1-2 finishes on consecutive weeks at the Singapore International and the Singapore Open respectively.
And his 68 today was bogey free, a notable feat anytime you do it, doubly so in the intense crucible of a U.S. Open.
Power – the fresh-faced, 25 year-old Irishman who has six international titles to his name including the PGA Tour’s Barbasol Open is also certain to play the weekend after posting rounds of 68 and 73 for a total of 1-over. As we go to press Min Woo Lee, the trio’s third member, stands right on the projected cut line of 3-over.