SEOUL, South Korea – U.S. PGA Tour star Anthony Kim did not watch a single hole of the Ryder Cup as the world No. 18 geared up for this week’s Kolon Korea Open, a OneAsia Tour event.
The Korean-American played a pivotal role in the U.S. victory at Valhalla two years ago, beating Sergio Garcia, 5 and 4, in the first singles match.
After a stunning start to this year’s PGA Tour, Kim was second in the Ryder Cup standings before undergoing thumb surgery in May. He has struggled since returning in August and dropped out of the automatic selections.
“I thought I had enough points by the time I had surgery, but then I had three months off and lost my place,” said Kim, a three-time PGA Tour winner. “I was a real outside bet for a captain’s pick, so I was hoping, but it wasn’t to be.
“I wished them all luck before they left. Over the weekend, I was watching American football with my friends so I didn’t watch one hole of the Ryder Cup. I only found out the U.S. lost when I arrived in Seoul on Monday night.”
Kim is eager to return to action at the Woo Jeong Hills Country Club in Cheonan, where he tied for third in his first Korea Open two years ago.
Kim, who played with a thumb injury for two years before surgery this year, said he is still facing three more months of rehab.
“So I’ll just have to see what I can do with a bum thumb,” Kim said. “Hopefully things can turn around this week.”
Other leading contenders this week include Y.E. Yang, Asia’s first major winner, defending champion Bae Sang-moon, Noh Seung-yul and Korean Tour leader Kim Dae-hyun.
Yang, who won his first OneAsia title at April’s Volvo China Open, won the 2006 Korea Open at Woo Jeong Hills, and finished joint runner-up to Vijay Singh the following year.
“I had a good start to the season, but I’ve been struggling a little bit following a twisted left knee,” Yang said. “I’m playing at about 60 to 70 percent of my level. My rhythm’s not quite there yet.”
Bae, 24, is bidding for a third Korea Open title and also his second OneAsia victory of the year after holding off Kim Dae-hyun and K.J. Choi to win the SK Telecom Open in May.
Kim Dae-hyun, 22, won the GS Caltex Maekyung Open and is third on OneAsia’s money list, while Noh, 19, won this year’s Maybank Malaysian Open.