THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP MEDIA DAY
March 12, 2018
SI WOO KIM: Coming back to this course has been so amazing. To see my pictures up on the wall and to drive up to this course, it brings back a lot of memories, and even though all tournaments are great, I would like to come back and win this one and defend my title.
Q. We've never had a repeat champion here at THE PLAYERS; is that something you've thought about at all?
SI WOO KIM: Yeah, I actually heard that after I won last year. Someone told me that there hasn't been any back-to-back champions, and I've noticed a lot of champions that come back don't play well. (Laughter.) I would like to change that, and I'm preparing already to come back and defend my title this year.
Q. You mentioned last year K.J. Choi's win here; have you talked to him about the fact that you two now share this fraternity as PLAYERS Champions?
SI WOO KIM: K.J. actually gave me a call after I won PLAYERS, and he congratulated me that way. It's such an honor and an amazing feeling to share that with another Korean, and to have two Koreans win this tournament. And when I went back to the CJ Cup, I actually brought the trophy back to Korea and we took a nice picture together. Going forward, I hope to win more tournaments for Korea, and it's just been an honor to share that with K.J.
Q. Just expand on how hard it is to win this event. You've got the best field in golf. You've got a golf course that doesn't favor one style. Sunday you went bogey-free but had to get up-and-down 10 times to do that and were successful in doing so. Just talk about the difficulty in winning this championship.
SI WOO KIM: My first win at Wyndham, I was actually very nervous because I didn't have any experience winning. But entering PLAYERS, I was going for my second win, so I felt a little more comfortable in that sense. But going into that season, I was battling back injury, and I was feeling nervous just being at the fifth major. I tried, knowing entering 15, 16, 17 that I had a two-shot lead and helped me play conservatively, and I think that ended up helping me win at the end. But it is a hard test of golf, and I'm looking forward to playing it this year.
Q. First of all, how is your back? What kind of treatment have you been undergoing? And what specifically was the problem with your back?
SI WOO KIM: Actually I went back to Korea last winter, and I think just having the cold weather there didn't help, and I didn't really exercise or stretch as much as I should have, so looking back, I think that's what caused a lot of the injury. And even coming back to California, the weather has been colder. Two weeks before THE PLAYERS, I was able to get a trainer, who was able to help me exercise, stretch, and now it feels great. I'm able to swing without any pain.
Q. Does it feel like you won a major championship by winning THE PLAYERS?
SI WOO KIM: I understand that this is the fifth major and it's a huge tournament. Entering last year, I noticed that all the players in the field were ranked higher than me, so I did keep that in mind. But it's just unbelievable to think that I won a tournament this big, and it's a very big honor.
Q. Sang-moon Bae, K.J. Choi, do you consider yourself in that caliber of athlete now that you've won this tournament?
SI WOO KIM: I don't think I'm there quite yet. Obviously K.J. has a lot more wins than me and a lot of experience. I currently only have two wins. But I definitely hope to be as great a level of them by having more wins and playing on the TOUR.
Q. You said that you want to defend your title and come back, but also it's very difficult for players defending their title to come back and win again. How confident do you really feel in winning this again?
SI WOO KIM: After winning THE PLAYERS last year, I think I set a high expectation for myself, which kind of hindered me for the rest of the season and into this year. But my shot making has been great, my putting has been great, and it's given me a lot of confidence in my game, and I know short game is very important at this course and at this tournament, so I'm going to go in with a lot of confidence and just work hard on my game.
Q. International golfers have won seven of the last ten tournaments here. Is there anything about this course that tends to favor the international golfer?
SI WOO KIM: I think all players, not just international, tend to hit it so far these days, and distance has been such an asset for a lot of the players, but at this course, I know how to hit it straight, and I know how to get up-and-down. There's a lot of trees, and it tends to get windy. So for me as an international player, there are a lot of courses like that in Korea, so I think I do have a favor in that way, and I can't speak for all international players, but I think it's important to hit it straight, and you don't really need distance here, and you'll get to get up-and-down, so work on your short game.
Q. What are your thoughts on the tournament next year changing to March? Have you spoken with other players on the TOUR about that change?
SI WOO KIM: Actually I did hear that news when I played the PGA Championship last year, and to me, whenever the tournament is play isn't really a factor. I love playing this course, and I think it's actually more of a benefit for me since the weather is colder in March and the conditions are harder. So I can just use that to my benefit since I can hit the ball straighter, while other players tend to hit the ball longer on this course.
Q. Are you excited that Tiger is playing so well? And also, what would it mean to you to come down here and you be in contention with Tiger or Phil?
SI WOO KIM: Yeah, I've been rooting for him to come back, and I've been supporting him, wanting him to win. He'll probably play well even without my support, but I'm always supporting him. To know that we're both PLAYERS Champions and to know that we both won on this course, it's pretty amazing, and to just see him out there practicing is just unreal because he's such a legendary player and I watched him growing up and watched him just dominate the sport. I'm hoping to play with him one day. I haven't played with him yet in a tournament, so I'm looking forward to that day.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports