With two PGA Tour titles under his belt over the past two seasons, Korean golfer Lee Kyoung-hoon now wants to become a more consistent performer, someone who can stay on top of his game from start to finish.
To that end, Lee said Wednesday he has been working hard to improve his conditioning, so that he can withstand the grind of a long tour season.
“I’ve been trying to build up my body so that I can have more consistency,” Lee said in a video news conference with the Korean media from Hawaii, where he’s preparing for the first tournament of the calendar year, the Sentry Tournament of Champions at the Plantation Course in Kapalua.
The 2022-2023 PGA Tour season began in October and Lee played in four tournaments during the fall stretch, recording a top-three finish along the way. The 31-year-old took a few weeks off between early November and early December, resting a bit on the Korean island of Jeju and then hitting the gym in Orlando later.
“When I am tired, my swing goes out of whack. During my winter training, I focused on making sure I won’t be as fatigued,” Lee said. “I got in plenty of cardiovascular exercises in the morning and evening hours.”
Lee is off to a solid start to this season. He is 15th on the tour in greens in regulation at 74.31 percent and 25th in driving accuracy at a shade under 70 percent. Last season, Lee only hit the green about 66 percent of the time and found the fairway off the tee about 62 percent of the time.
Lee said there are technical aspects of his game that he’d like to address, namely putting but insisted getting into better shape comes first.
“Obviously, I am not perfect technically. But to improve in that regard, I must be prepared physically,” Lee said. “I also want to stay healthy and avoid injuries that will keep me from playing the way I want to play.”
Lee said more consistent showing with his short stick can go a long way. He acknowledged that he has mostly resided on extreme ends of the spectrum when it comes to putting, and he wants to narrow that gap.
Last season, Lee ranked 85th on the tour with 28.87 putts per round. He is sitting at 29 putts per round so far this season, good for only 120th.
“I’ve taken some putting lessons here and there, and now I am considering hiring a full-time putting coach,” Lee said. “I want to be more efficient on the greens.”
The Sentry Tournament of Champions is an exclusive event open only to tour winners from the 2021-2022 season. Lee, world No. 38, qualified by 스포츠토토 successfully defending his title at the ATT Byron Nelson in May 2022. Lee tied for 33rd in last year’s Sentry Tournament of Champions and said he is going for a top-10 finish this time around.
Beyond this week, Lee is also eyeing a three-peat at ATT Byron Nelson and better performances at major championships.
He played in all four majors in the same year for the first time last season. He missed the cut at the Masters and the Open Championship, while tying for 37th at the U.S. Open and 41st at the PGA Championship.
“I’d like to give myself a chance to win a major,” Lee said, when asked about his goals for 2023. “I played better at the start of this season than the last. I feel like I am getting better and better. Hopefully, I’ll play well in the first couple of rounds this week and go from there.”
ee, 31, is one of three Koreans in the field this week, joined by Tom Kim, the highest-ranked Korean at No. 15, and Im Sung-jae, who checks in at No. 19.
The trio, and another Korean player, Kim Si-woo, all represented the International Team at last year’s Presidents Cup. Though their team lost to the United States in the match play competition, the Koreans did their part. Kim Si-woo led all International players with three points, followed by Im with 2.5 points. Tom Kim and Lee each contributed two points.
Lee said the Korean contingent, which now includes rookie Kim Seong-hyeon and returning veteran An Byeong-hun, has a bigger presence on the PGA Tour than before.
“For many years, people in America have known Korea as a powerhouse for women’s golf. But now, we have a lot of really good players in men’s golf too,” Lee said. “There are players who can play well week in and week out. We’ve been receiving so much support from local fans, and it’s been a lot of fun.”