It’s been 487 days since Hyo Joo Kim last teed it up on the LPGA Tour, when she finished the 2019 CME Group Tour Championship with a 2-under 70. Kim had yet to start her 2020 season when the LPGA Tour was forced to shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and she opted to remain in her native Korea when LPGA competition restarted in July.
After a successful stint on the KLPGA Tour in 2020, where she captured two titles and led the tour in official earnings, Kim returned to the LPGA Tour in style, carding a 5-under 67 to trail the lead by one after 18 holes at the 2021 Kia Classic.
“A lot of players in the U.S. who competed asked when am I coming over to the U.S., and then a lot of my friends and players in Korea ask when are you going to the U.S.,” said Kim. “I definitely had it in the back of my mind, and I told myself that this year, in 2021, I definitely should have to go in the U.S. But because I was home, I spent a lot of time practicing throughout the fall and the winter, and then I knew I had to come back this year.”
Since Kim stayed in Korea for the last year, she was able to spend more time with her family than she is usually able to enjoy. So when it was time for her to head back to work in the States, her mom was less than enthused to see her daughter head back on the road.
“Before coming here during the pandemic, I didn't really go out other than for workouts or practice. So when I started packing to finally come to the U.S., my mom was a little bit flustered and asked me, ‘Where are you going?’” Kim said with a laugh. “I told her, LPGA, most of the tournaments are overseas, so I should go now. So I packed my bags and I'm here, and happy to be here.”