‘Missed cuts are routine → 66 wins’ Kookmin Kim, former Kookmin University student, says ‘overcoming OB disease’ changed his golf life
Despite his national team experience안전놀이터, not many people were paying attention to Kim Dong-min (25-NJ Nonghyup Bank) until last year. Until last year, he had missed nine cuts in the first half of the year alone. In three years and 47 tournaments, he had only made the cut 19 times.
Kim changed that. He used to struggle with OBs, where his driver tee shots were pushed to the right, but he has worked on his weaknesses and transformed into a completely different golfer.
Kim shot a 5-under 67 in the fourth round on the final day of the Korea Men’s Professional Golf (KPGA) Korean Tour’s KB Financial Live Championship at Blackstone Golf Club in Icheon-si, Gyeonggi-do (par-72 – total prize money of 700 million won) to finish with a final total of 8-under 280.
It was his fourth win in four seasons and 66th start since debuting on the KPGA Korean Tour in 2020. It is the 53rd time he has won a tournament as a top seed. His performance did not exceed expectations. He was a golfer who missed the cut more often than not. He didn”t get a lot of attention.
But in the second half of last year, Kim transformed into a completely different golfer. The Choi Kyung Joo Invitational in October was the turning point. He finished tied for seventh, followed by a runner-up finish at the Golf Zone-Doray Open in November and a tie for sixth at the season-ending LG Signature Players Championship.
Dong-min Kim off the tee with his driver. /Photo=KPGA
This year, with a fourth-place finish at the DB Insurance Promi Open and a runner-up finish at the Golf Zone Open to open the year, Kim has a realistic goal of winning instead of just making the cut.
The key was his driver tee shot accuracy. After the tournament, Kim Dong-min said, “I think my lack of tee shot accuracy is the reason I haven’t won before. I had a lot of OBs in this tournament, but since Blackstone Icheon GC is a challenging course, I tried to tee off safely. This was a factor in my victory,” he said, explaining his improvement since the second half of last year. “It’s because my confidence in my driver shot has increased. There were a lot of OBs where my driver went right. I was too stubborn to hit it straight,” he said, adding, “I practiced my driver shots intensively by myself to improve my fade, and now my tee shots are much better than in the first half of last year, so I feel more confident.”
Kim Dong-min, who started the day in 10th place, five strokes behind Kim Min-kyu, made four birdies by the ninth hole to join the race for the title. Only one of his tee shots traveled more than 250 yards, so he paid a lot of attention to his accuracy.
I started the second round tied for the lead. He was able to play more cautiously but dropped a shot on the 10th (par-4) when he left his tee shot in the right rough and missed a 1-meter putt. Kim hit a fantastic iron shot for birdie at the 15th (par-5) to regain the lead, but a three-putt bogey at the 17th (par-4) dropped him back to second by one stroke.
Kim Dong-min pumps his fist in the air after his eagle putt on the 18th hole. /Photo=KPGA
Dong-min Kim (left) is doused with water after his victory. /Photo=KPGA
The 18th hole (par-5) was a challenge. After hitting his tee shot 302 yards and landing in the fairway, Kim grabbed a wood instead of an iron. It worked. He got it to within four meters of the cup and sank a gutsy eagle putt to take a two-stroke lead. Shin made a double bogey on the 17th hole to seal the victory.
Kim Dong-min, who earned 140 million won for his maiden victory, jumped to second on the money list. The runner-up was amateur Jo Woo-young, the winner of the Golf Zone Open.
After reviewing his play on the 18th hole, Kim said, “I knew I was tied for the lead on the 17th hole. But I made a bogey, so I knew I had to make at least a birdie on the last hole to force a playoff or win the tournament.” “I had a lot of trouble deciding whether to hit my second shot with a 2-iron or 3-wood. I decided to go for an eagle rather than a birdie, so I chose a 3-wood and it landed close to the pin and I was able to make the eagle. My last putt was for eagle,” he smiled.
An unexpected first win. “I’m so happy that I played my best until the end and the win came,” said Kim Dong-min. “I was so nervous waiting for the win, and that nervousness made me feel happy.”
Now he’s set another goal. “I got the win, which was my goal. Now I want to gain confidence and add one more win this year to top the Genesis Points and win the Genesis Grand Prize.” “I want to top the Genesis Points and participate in the final stage of the Conferitour Q-School,” he vowed.