Tom Kim focuses on positives after Travelers playoff loss to Scheffler

Tom Kim focuses on positives after Travelers playoff loss to Scheffler
Tom Kim and Scottie Scheffler.
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Korea’s Tom Kim held his head high at the Travelers Championship on Sunday after enduring a playoff loss to this season’s most dominant golfer on the planet.

The 22-year-old Kim led after the first three rounds at TPC River Highlands and produced a gutsy 10-foot birdie on the 72nd hole to force extra time against World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, who is a close friend and regular practice partner.

However, he made bogey on the first extra hole from a plugged lie in the greenside bunker while Scheffler comfortably made a regulation two-putt par to claim his sixth PGA Tour title of the season and become the fourth player (ninth instance) with six or more wins in a season and the first since Tiger Woods in 2009.

“I’m going to definitely look at this week as a positive,” said Kim, who totaled a career-best 258 after a final round 66.

The young Korean star, who is already a three-time Tour winner, took consolation that no one in the elite field beat him through 72 holes and will also find confidence he ranked first in driving accuracy (48/56), greens in regulation (66/72) and scrambling (6/6) at the $20-million showpiece, which is the eighth and final Signature event of 2024.

He dropped only two bogeys all week, both through three putts, and ranked 20th in Strokes Gained: Putting — ingredients that will make him a favourite at the Rocket Mortgage Classic which starts Thursday. It will be his ninth consecutive tournament.

“Against the best players in the world, I fought really hard,” said Kim, who moves from No. 61 to No. 39 on the FedExCup points list. “I had so much fun out there, felt like a practice round with (Scheffler) … It's just nice to know that the hard work kind of really does come to life. Like, yes, it would have been super sweet if I won, but it still doesn't change who I am.”

Kim and Scheffler have become firm friends in recent times, shares the same Christian faith and regularly practices together in Dallas. They also have the same birthdate of June 21 — Scheffler turned 28 last Friday while Kim turned 22 — but the American was simply a touch better at crunch time.

With a jam-packed leaderboard, Scheffler hit three straight birdies from Hole Nos. 13-15 to pull ahead briefly. Kim stayed on Scheffler’s heels with his own birdies on 13 and 15, and then raised the roof with a brilliant closing birdie in front of large crowds, which he celebrated with his customary fist pump, so reminiscent of his Presidents Cup heroics in 2022.

Scheffler said: “It was a great finish. This golf course produces a lot of those, you know, the exciting stuff coming down the stretch. It's great competing against one of my good buddies in Tom Kim, but it's also very difficult at the same time. I want what's best for him, and so sometimes it can be hard, I think, for both of us, you know, battling against each other out there. But it was a lot of fun and I'm proud to be sitting here with the trophy.”

With a career second runner-up finish on Tour, Kim will now turn his attention to the Rocket Mortgage Classic as he seeks to ride on the crest of a wave where he was also T4 at the RBC Canadian Open earlier this month. 

“I feel like this year has been a lot of learning,” said Kim. “I’ve had a lot of learning lessons of trying to not label things. I am who I am, 10 wins on the PGA Tour, zero wins on the PGA Tour, it's not going to change me.

“I think it took a lot of experiences for me to actually learn that … when I work hard, not expect anything, just kind of let things happen. I think that's what happened this week. I was really close to wire-to-wire finish; that would have been awesome, but it just wasn't meant to be and I'll have my chances.”

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