Latest PGA Tour winner thanks golfer wife for unwavering support

January 16, 2023

For Kim Si-woo, the latest PGA Tour winner from South Korea, being married to a fellow professional golfer has its perks.

Namely, she can walk 18 holes with him each round, covering well over 6 kilometers at PGA Tour courses, to cheer him on and still have energy left to spend time with him away from the course and keep his mind off stressful competition.

Kim tied the knot with Oh Ji-hyun, a seven-time winner on the Korea LPGA (KLPGA) Tour, in December last year. And Oh was with her husband all week in Hawaii, with Kim capping it all off with his fourth career PGA tour win at the Sony Open in Hawaii in Honolulu on Sunday (local time).

“She walked with me the whole time, and she gave me so much strength,” Kim said in an online press conference with South Korean media. Kim shot an 18-under 262 at Waialae Country Club to beat Hayden Buckley of the United States by one stroke.

“There were some tense moments, but I was able to smile and relax whenever I saw her along the ropes,” Kim said. “This was not an easy course to walk on, and I am thankful that she came here with me.”

Kim and Oh had arrived in Hawaii last weekend to do some sightseeing. This was after they had spent a couple of weeks in their Dallas home, winding down and, in Kim’s words, “not even touching our golf clubs.”

Once in Hawaii, Kim said he managed to get in some practice sessions, though the Sony Open felt different than his earlier, pre-marriage tournaments.

“Once I left the course, I felt so relaxed and at ease that I didn’t even feel like I came here to compete,” Kim said with a smile. “I had zero stress. Ji-hyun and I toured Hawaii and enjoyed some great food.”

In a separate interview with the PGA Tour, Oh said she felt more nervous watching Kim play than she normally feels when she’s competing.

“As a golfer myself, I know just how much work goes into winning. That makes me feel even prouder of him,” Oh said. “Honestly, I thought it would be all fun and games being with him here. But I was a nervous wreck the whole time. When he clinched this win, I had tears in my eyes.”

Oh said she will put her own playing career on hold to support her husband.

“I plan on going to every tournament he plays,” Oh said. “I will now be Kim’s wife, rather than a professional golfer. When we were dating, we had to spend so much time apart from each other. Now that we’re married, I don’t have to worry about being away from him. This is the happiest moment of my life.”

Kim opened the tournament with consecutive rounds of 67, and closed it with back-to-back 64s. He started Sunday trailing Buckley by three shots but shot out of the gates with birdies on the first three holes.

“I struck the ball well in the first two rounds but didn’t putt that well,” Kim said. “Then in the third round, I left myself with a lot of short putts and that helped me calm down going into the final round. I was able to finish strong.”

Kim earned his first victory in August 2016 as a 21-year-old and followed that up with his biggest win to date at The Players Championship in May 2017. He became the youngest winner of the tournament called the “fifth major.”

But it took Kim 3 1/2 years to get his third title. The Sony Open title came another two years after that.

“I think I was lucky to get the first two titles so early in my career,” Kim recalled. “I ended up putting a lot of pressure on myself to live up to that. I thought I was a better player than I actually was. But I’ve tried to stay within myself since then.”

Though Kim didn’t have a win during the 2021-2022 season, he was still selected for the Presidents Cup, a match play competition between a team of non-European international players and an American team. Kim responded to captain Trevor Immelman’s faith by leading the International Team with three points.

“Though I didn’t have a great season last year, I had an opportunity to play at the Presidents Cup and compete with some great players,” Kim said. “I think my mental game has become so much better after that event. I learned how to battle and stay patient. I think that experience helped me win this week.”