Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Kim Aiming For The Stars At Enjoy Jakarta Indonesia Open

HONG KONG, March 12 - Kim Meen-whee, tipped as the next big thing from the assembly line of Korean talent, wants a fast start at next week's season-opening Enjoy Jakarta Indonesia Open on OneAsia to set the tone for "a huge year".

Watching good friends John Huh and Bae Sang-moon excel in their rookie seasons on the U.S. PGA Tour has instilled an "anything they can do I can do" attitude in the muscular 20-year-old with the sweet swing.

Huh, ranked 15th on OneAsia last year, won the Mayakoba Golf Classic in just his fifth start on the PGA Tour after gaining his card at Q-School, while two-time OneAsia winner Bae announced himself on the international stage by reaching the last eight in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

Kim sees the US$1 million Enjoy Jakarta Indonesia Open at Emeralda Golf Club from March 22 to 25 as the perfect opportunity to show that he has what it takes to match Huh and Bae.

"They are both very good friends of mine and I am happy for them," said Kim. "Not only happy for them, I want to play with them. It is my goal to go to the PGA Tour.

"Their performances have given me confidence. I say to myself 'I can do it too'."

Kim gave notice of his potential by claiming eighth place on the OneAsia Order of Merit in his debut season and banking U.S. $106,830. He had three top-10 finishes, including third place at the Kolon Korea Open, and has targeted a victory in 2012.

"It is a huge year for me - I am going to play all OneAsia and Korean Tour events. My goal is to try and win," said Kim, who did his winter training in California. "I want to make a quick start and push for a win at the Indonesia Open.”

Kim, the golf gold medalist at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, has a lot to live up to as the previous five winners of the Asiad went on to triumph on a major tour.

"I did not realise that (until recently)," said Kim, referring to the successes of Shigeki Maruyama, Kaname Yokoo, Tomohiro Kondo, Shiv Kapur and Kim Kyung-tae. "But the Asian Games was just amateur. This is pro -- a big, big difference. It's good to know that they all went on to win titles as professionals.”

Other Korean players eager to make an impression at the Enjoy Jakarta Indonesia Open are 2009 Asian amateur champion Han Chang-won, who finished a rung above Kim in last year's Order of Merit, and the big-hitting Kim Dae-hyun, who won the 2010 GS Caltex Maekyung Open.

Han, who earned $135,078 last year, played some of his best golf to finish fifth in the 2011 Indonesia Open and will be looking for more of the same.

After an outstanding 2010 when he finished second on the OneAsia Order of Merit with winnings of $272,154, Kim Dae-hyun lost his way a bit last year and dropped to 27th.

"I did not play well last year but I have been practicing hard and am optimistic about this season," he said. "The win on the PGA Tour by John Huh and Bae's performances in the matchplay have certainly inspired me.

I am aiming for top spot on the Order of Merit this year.”

Defending champion Thaworn Wiratchant from Thailand, Japanese legend Shingo Katayama, China's Liang Wen-chong, OneAsia's leading player in 2010, and 2011 Asian Tour number one Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines have confirmed their participation in the Enjoy Jakarta Indonesia Open which will be joint sanctioned by the Japan Golf Tour Organisation for the first time.

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