4 S. Koreans to play in 2nd PGA Tour playoff event, chase ticket to finale

August 16, 2023

Four South Korean players will participate in the second leg of the PGA Tour’s annual playoffs this week, as they chase a ticket to the exclusive-field season finale.

Kim Si-woo, Tom Kim, Im Sung-jae and An Byeong-hun will be in the 50-man field for the BMW Championship at the North Course at Olympia Fields Country Club in Olympia Fields, Illinois, starting Thursday (local time).

These four players first qualified for the playoffs by finishing inside the top 70 in the FedEx Cup standings at the end of the regular season. And after the conclusion of the first playoff event held last week, the FedEx St. Jude Championship in Memphis, they had to remain inside the top 50 in FedEx Cup points to stay alive in the playoffs.

In the FedEx Cup standings, Kim Si-woo is the top South Korean at No. 17, followed by Tom Kim at No. 18. Im Sung-jae, who tied for sixth in Memphis, is in 28th place, and An sits 10 spots below at No. 38.

After the BMW Championship, only the top-30 players in FedEx Cup points will be invited to play at the season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta starting Aug. 24.

Im is trying to qualify for his fifth consecutive Tour Championship. He was the only South Korean there in 2019, 2020 and 2021, and was then joined by Lee Kyoung-hoon in 2022.

Since the FedEx Cup playoffs were introduced in 2007, only six South Korean players have competed at a Tour Championship: Im, Lee, Kim Si-woo, Bae Sang-moon, Choi Kyoung-joo and Yang Yong-eun. Im is tied with Choi for the most Tour Championship appearances by a South Korean player with four.

At last year’s Tour Championship, Im finished one stroke behind the champion, Rory McIlroy, in second place, the best showing by an Asian player in that tournament.

Kim Si-woo, who last played at the Tour Championship in 2016, is a strong bet to make his return this year. Tom Kim, whose Korean first name is Joo-hyung, entered last year’s BMW Championship at No. 25 in FedEx Cup points but ended up at No. 34 after tying for 54th in the second playoff event. He is better positioned to qualify for the Tour Championship this year.

An has never played at a Tour Championship, though he has been playing some solid golf of late, with a couple of top-three finishes in his last four tournaments.

At last year’s BMW Championship, four golfers played their way into the top 30 in FedEx Cup points after beginning the week on the outside looking in.

Where they qualify for the Tour Championship will also be important. Under the “starting strokes” system, the higher the players’ position is in the FedEx Cup standings, the bigger the advantage will be for them at the start of the Tour Championship.

The FedEx Cup points leader will begin the season-ending tournament at 10-under, and the No. 2 player will start at eight-under, and so forth. Players between sixth and 10th will be at four-under at the start. The bottom five players in the top 30 will begin the tournament at even par.