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Si Woo Kim’s swing indicates ‘major’ potential

July 11, 2023
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Photographs by J.D. Cuban

South Korea’s Si Woo Kim has one of those swings that is hypnotic—you could watch it all day. The technical flaws are so minute, they are hard to identify, let alone correct. “His good days are as good as anybody’s,” says his swing coach, Chris Como. “He’s one of those guys who can just run with it. He has zero apprehension about going low.”

How low? How about back-to-back 64s on the weekend to win the Sony Open in Hawaii in January or the 63 on Sunday to finish T-2 at the AT&T Byron Nelson in May. Kim, who turns 28 in June, certainly seems like a player capable of winning a major—especially when you look closely at his mechanics.

“When we first started working [in 2022], I could see a lot of things he was doing really well that explained why at times his ball-striking was so good,” says Como, one of Golf Digest’s 50 Best Teachers in America and former coach to Tiger Woods. “That said, there were some little pieces we’ve been working to improve. He was fairly laid off at the top and then came slightly over [the swing plane] in transition. That sometimes led to a wipey motion into the ball and a weaker ball flight.”

Kim, 38th in the World Golf Ranking as of June and a four-time winner on the PGA Tour, says the correction for him is to feel like he’s “staying centered” over the ball. In some of his older swings, he says a pronounced sway away from the target contributed to consistency issues with quality of contact.

A little move off the ball is OK, Como says, as long as you still feel centered. “A lot of great players have done that. With Si Woo, we want to make sure there’s still some pressure in his left foot going back. Also, the trick is to make sure his shoulders don’t get too flat. There should be a little steeper look to his shoulder plane.”

With those subtle issues in check, the plan is to build a template for Kim to rely on, Como says, “to preserve the fingerprint of what he does so well. We want the overall shape of his swing to be more neutral looking so that the plane of his swing doesn’t travel left of his body lines. He still hits fades and prefers that for his ball flight, but it’s subtle. The ball just falls to the right. He can do that just by setting up open [left of the target] a hair, not by wiping across it.”

Kim says he prefers a fade because of its reliability—less than 10 percent of his tee shots miss the fairway to the left. Keeping it in play is the key to his scoring—he’s 124th on tour in driving distance (295.6 yards) but 12th in fairway accuracy (66.2 percent).

“A big thing for me is clubface control,” Kim says. “This year, I feel as confident in my ball-striking as ever.”