The international team won the sessions at Quail Hollow Golf Club on Saturday, and in the process, Tom Kim secured winning the week. Despite coming into eight matches on the third day of play at the 2022 Presidents Cup down 8-2, Kim walked in putts all over the Americans and dragged his team back into a competition that looked to be completely lost. In the process, the 20-year-old star introduced himself to the rest of the world.
In the morning foursomes match, Kim and K.H. Lee took down World Nos. 1 and 12, Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns. Though the Americans led at the turn, Kim made a nasty eagle on the par-4 11th hole, which he walked off as hard as anyone at any team event in the history of team events has walked off a putt. The Lee-Kim duo never trailed after that and went on to win 2 and 1.
The afternoon was even better -- as if that were even possible. Kim paired with Si Woo Kim, and they took on the seemingly invincible twosome of Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele in four-ball. Kim again eagled the par-4 11th on a monster putt, but it looked as if Cantlay and Schauffele were going to be able to hold them off and secure at least a half point.
After Si Woo birdied the 16th to tie it up, the teams remained deadlocked going to the last. Kim hit the 2-iron of his life to 10 feet. He stalked the putt for a long time, undoubtedly wondering if he had any celebrations left in the holster after a day full of them. He struck the birdie putt that would win a full point against Cantlay and Schauffele, but he never saw it go in.
Kim bellowed one final "Let's go!" toward an international side that was chomping at the bit to dog pile him on the green. It was the perfect exclamation point to one of the great singular days for an International player in Presidents Cup history.
What has become clear, as the week has worn on, is how desperate Kim is to embrace the moment. You could almost see him formulating celebrations in his mind as he walked to and around the greens of Quail Hollow, and he was nonplussed at having to take on the titanic twosome of Cantlay and Schauffele.
"[I] 100% [wanted that moment]," said Kim after the matches. "I was already thinking in the back of my mind, 'What am I going to do, how am I going to celebrate?' ... It was an amazing feeling for that to go in because the team was behind and they were watching. I wanted it more than anything in the world."
The 20-year-old became the first golfer born in the 2000s to win a PGA Tour event when he won at the Wyndham Championship just over a month ago, but his legend has been growing since long before that. His given name is not Tom Kim but rather Joohyung Kim, though he started calling himself Tom because he had a "Thomas the Tank Engine" lunch box as a child.
He's an easy player for which to root. A self-decribed fast food savant, he was voted by his teammates as the player that eats the most in the team room this week at Quail Hollow, and then he proved it by splitting two pairs of pants earlier in the week. He celebrates like it's both the first time it's ever happened and the last time he'll ever have the opportunity. He is, in a sometimes joyless pursuit, an absolute revelation. Nothing is as much fun as watching a golfer delight (and thrive) in his first team experience like Tom Kim has done.
Whether he ever becomes the global superstar others have predicted remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure after Saturday's show: If the Cup gets close late in the day on Sunday when Kim plays Max Homa in the 10th match off in singles, there's nobody else the International would want out there. Kim proved that on Saturday. And you know what? I'm not sure there's anyone else we would rather watch.