Tom Kim’s second-round 72 Friday put him in sixth, just two shots off the pace at three under, heading into the weekend at the star-studded Hero World Challenge.
But as the 20-year-old walked off the course at Albany around 4:45 p.m. EST, golf couldn’t have been further from his mind.
In fact, he walked into the media room with a stupefied look on his face, staring at his cell phone.
“Did you just now find out?” a reporter asked Kim.
“Yes!” Kim shouted.
The pair were referring to the dramatic performance by Kim’s South Korea in the World Cup.
Shortly before Kim teed off at 12:09 in the final group of the second round, South Korea pulled off a 2-1 victory over Portugal thanks to a goal in the 91st minute of the match. With Ghana losing 2-0 to Uruguay a few minutes later, the Korean team moved on to the last 16 of the World Cup for the first time since 2010.
Kim wasn’t on his phone during play but said he was watching the match before coming out to tee off when the score was still 1-1. He didn’t find out about the last-minute goal until nearly five hours later.
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“That’s old news,” the reporter quipped.
“Oh my god! How did that happen? We beat Portugal,” Kim shouted, still clearly in shock. “Goosebumps. Literally goosebumps. Wow! That’s amazing.”
He didn’t seem to be ready after a few moments when another reporter asked him about his golf game.
“That news probably was way better than my golf,” Kim said.
Incredibly, Kim said he was thinking about the match during play.
“I wanted to finish the match, but I was kind of praying while I was playing,” he said. “And it definitely motivated me, to be honest, seeing them do what they’re doing for Korea and watching the Koreans this week and hopefully try to ride the flag on the PGA Tour.”
South Korea advance to play Brazil in the round of 16 Monday. Brazil are the betting favorite to win the World Cup entering the knockout stage and are already a massive favorite to beat South Korea.
Perhaps the team can pick up a thing or two from their fellow countryman Kim, who shined at the Presidents Cup as the underdog and already has two PGA Tour wins.