It had been a very long time since Michael Kim had reduce the PGA Tour.
Effectively, Justin Rose was the quantity 2 golfer on the planet. Francesco Molinari was No. 6. Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth have been within the high 10. Matthew Wolff was months away from his first outing on the PGA Tour.
The latest winner of the PGA Tour was Tiger Woods. The European Ryder Cup group had simply overwhelmed up the Individuals in France. The Cincinnati Bengals, quarterbacks by Andy Dalton, had simply overwhelmed the Dolphins to enhance to Four-1 on the yr. If these tracks weren’t sufficient, it was the primary week of October 2018, the beginning of a brand new Tour season.
That week, Michael Kim shot 72-68 to make the reduce on the Safeway Open. Over the weekend, he scored 73-77, transferring to 73rd. On the time, it appeared like an uncomplicated ending. Kim was solely 4 begins from profitable the John Deere Basic, and life was good; He had the seven-figure paycheck and multi-year job safety that comes from profitable on the Tour. After his subsequent begin, the Open Championship, his arrival in T35 catapulted him into the highest 200 on the planet for the primary time.
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However it turned out that begin on the Safeway Open represented Kim’s closing reduce for some time. After taking part in uncut occasions on the CJ Cup and the CIMB Basic, Kim missed his final two cuts of 2018. In 2019, he made 28 begins on the PGA Tour. Two of them, the CJ Cup and the Match of Champions, have been uncut occasions. Within the different 26, he logged 23 failed outages and three WDs.
Kim’s 2020 was even harder: 15 begins, 13 MCs, two WDs. In different phrases, Kim, like most of us, was prepared for the calendar to vary into a brand new yr.
Martin Coach is aware of the sentiment: He made only one reduce in 2020, a T-47 on the Genesis Invitational. Earlier than that begin, he had missed 21 cuts in a row. After that begin, 15 extra have been misplaced. His solely victory, the 2019 Puerto Rico Open, had began to really feel like historic historical past.
That brings us to the Sony Open this week. Kim began at No. 10 on Thursday and birdied his first gap of 2021, beginning a gap spherical of 67 three-under. The chopping line was clearly inside attain. Coach opened for par 70. He wanted to go down a bit.
Friday dawned and Kim knew he wanted to shoot a strong quantity to make it to the weekend. The agency fairways made the course brief to play and the calm circumstances drove many gamers down. He shot even within the high 9. When he bogeyed No. 13, he slipped two pictures off the cutoff line, however not for lengthy: Two holes later he recovered that shot, wedged a six-foot wedge, and made the putt.
And so, Michael Kim was three brief for the match heading to No. 18, needing to birdie on the achievable par-5 to attain his ticket into the weekend. His tee shot discovered a fairway bunker, however he drew a adequate misinform go 230 yards, ending on the golf green simply earlier than the inexperienced.
Kim didn’t converse to the media on web site after his spherical, and didn’t instantly reply to our interview request, so we do not know if he knew how important his four-foot-four birdie putt was. It was 18. The necessary factor was that he poured it.
The coach’s spherical did not begin till Kim’s spherical was over, so he had a a lot clearer image of the cutoff line. It will take a great spherical. It appeared like a great omen when Coach birdied from a bunker at quantity 11, his second gap of the day. He had birdies at 16 and 18, then made the flip in model by scoring a 59-foot birdie at No. 1. Possibly it was simply his day.
He headed for the clubhouse with a collection of two-putts. He dropped in two from 53 toes at No. Four. From 41 toes at No. 5. From 49 toes at No. 6. From 66 toes at No. 7. He was clinging to the cutoff line, and when drew a foul lie in a fairway bunker at no. eight, did a bogey and slid a shot out.
Like Kim, he wanted to birdie his final gap, an achievable par 5. He made it look awfully straightforward, sending a tee shot about 326 yards down the precise facet of the golf green. A medium iron method was put in inside 20 toes. He left the eagle’s putt very brief and completed off the two-putt single, scoring 66. A reduce made, proper on the quantity. A giant sigh of reduction.
A reduce made does not resolve something, not within the large image. For each Kim and Coach, the onerous half is but to come back: With their Tour winner exemption statuses operating out this yr, can they every play effectively sufficient to maintain their card?
However a reduce made may also imply loads. Every of those males has seen how a single match can change the course of a profession, to start with. Alternatively: the PGA Tour has seen many unlikely comebacks. Look no additional than Brendon Todd, who had a profession hunch that our two main males on Friday can be conversant in: He was not noted of the world’s high 2,000, missed practically each 2016-18 reduce, and thought he had misplaced his recreation. .
He gained twice final season.
It’s not recognized what 2021 will deliver to Michael Kim, nor to Martin Coach. However to this point, it is off to a great begin. Now await the weekend. And they’re solely six pictures behind the chief.