AUGUSTA • Kim Si-woo cannot wait to hear the roars return at the Masters this week. And he hopes to be one of the reasons for the noise.
With a limited number of fans, or patrons as they are better known at Augusta National Golf Club, allowed on site to watch the year’s first Major, the South Korean hopes to savour the atmosphere and launch a title challenge for the Green Jacket.
“We have played without fans over the last few months. When I hit good shots and made good putts, I couldn’t get motivated and get my energy up because I didn’t hear any loud cheering,” he said. “But now, with some fans coming back, we get a lot more cheers. It gives me added motivation and energy.”
The first time he stepped into Augusta National in 2017, Kim felt like he was in a dream.
“When I was young, I watched the Masters a lot on TV. I saw players hit great shots on a great course, and I know all the famous holes,” he said.
“When I came here at first, I thought the course condition was way better than I imagined. It was almost flawless, it was very impressive. I felt like I am in a dream.”
His debut though proved to be short-lived as rounds of 75 and 81 saw him miss the cut. However, the rising star proved to be a quick learner as he soon mastered the intricacies and nuances of Augusta National.
In subsequent visits, he has finished tied-24th, tied-21st and tied-34th, results which have only reinforced his belief that he can compete at the Masters.
“The first time I played, I was so nervous that I didn’t play as how I wanted to, but after that, I had a little more experience and I think I could play well and this course fits me,” said Kim.
“When I played last November (the Masters was rescheduled due to Covid-19), I couldn’t qualify for the next one. I was a little worried but I’m really happy to be able to play again after winning at The American Express in January.”
Still only 25, Kim is already a three-time PGA Tour winner, ranked only behind eight-time winner K.J. Choi as the South Korean golfer with most wins on the tour.
He has shown he has the bit between his teeth to withstand the pressures of challenging for a first Major victory.
Yang Yong-eun remains Asia’s lone Major champion when he triumphed at the 2009 PGA Championship, while the best Masters finish was achieved by Im Sung-jae, who came in joint runner-up five months ago.
Close friend Im has helped Kim to push the limits in his own game.
“I think it’s an opportunity for Korean players to motivate each other,” he said. “Seeing (his success) gives me lots of motivation and makes me want to work even harder.”