Not even 4,000 travel miles and a six time zone difference can halt the momentum of Tom Kim.
Hours after landing in Minnesota for the 3M Open off a tie for 47th place at last week's British Open, Kim pulled into the TPC Twin Cities players lot for an 18-hole pro-am, his first look at the golf course. Later on Monday, he was presented a special temporary membership for the remaining PGA Tour season.
At 20 years old, the South Korean is the youngest to join the Tour on this exemption since 19-year-old Joaquin Niemann in 2019.
"It's been a dream of mine to play here full time and obviously a good couple weeks give you that position to do well," Kim said Wednesday.
Kim, No. 40 in the Official World Golf Rankings, placed third at the PGA Tour co-sanctioned Scottish Open two weeks ago and carded top 25 finishes at the Byron Nelson and the U.S. Open earlier this season. To earn full status for next season, Kim must earn as many or more non-member FedEx Cup points as the 125th and final eligible player to qualify for the playoffs. His 296 points would put him in 132nd place.
In his past 18 worldwide starts, Kim has placed in the top five in nine, or half of them.
"I still have so much to learn and so much to be better at," he said. "Just looking at the guys who are dominating on the PGA Tour and you see how good they play, it just motivates myself to be at their level and try to get better every day."
Kim, whose first name is Joohyung but is called Tom because of a not-long-ago fascination with the "Thomas the Train" cartoon series, is among the rising stars in golf. It's a sport that has showcased its young talent lately. Ten of the past 15 major winners have been in their 20s.
"The level of golf is just moving in a really, really fast pace where the young guys are veterans now," Kim said. "When you're young, you've got to keep pushing, you've got to keep learning, you've got to get better. You can't have that period where you're kind of stuck for a little bit, you've got to keep getting better and better."
Eight weeks remain until the Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow. Kim sits 18th in the International rankings. The top eight players qualify based on a points system with four at-large selections made by captain Trevor Immelman, who walked a few holes with Kim at St. Andrews last week.
"Energy-wise, I'd be a really big help," Kim said. "And if I could just go onto that team and somehow just play well there, that would be definitely a dream come true."
Mardy Fish only lived in Edina until he was 5 but still considers the 3M Open a homecoming. The 40-year-old former tennis star, who moonlights on the celebrity golf circuit, received a sponsor's exemption into this week's field, his first PGA Tour event.
"My dad went to the University of Minnesota, so a lot of roots were laid down here a long time ago," Fish said. "I don't get to come back very often so this is certainly a special trip."
Fish plays to a plus-2.8 Handicap Index at Bel-Air Country Club. This week he name-dropped Jack Nicklaus ("He is buddies with Hollis [Cavner, the 3M Open director] and called him and said, 'Hey, what about this Fish guy for a sponsor's exemption?' ") and said he counts Stephen Curry, Sergio Garcia, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler among his close friends on and off the golf course.
But the biggest thrill of being back in his native state, Fish said, was throwing out the first pitch recently at a Twins game.
"My son's 8, we watch every Twins game at home," Fish said. "It was a good dad moment where I held his eyes closed and walked down to the [field] and okay, now open your eyes. Some of my best work as a father is getting him to root for the Vikings and the Twins."
Field one short
Brandon de Jonge, the final alternate available from a list of more than 20, was given the chance to tee up in Blaine, but passed. That means a field of 155, one short of capacity, will start Thursday's opening round.