K.T. Kim.
K.T. Kim.

Korean aiming for icing on cake

HE IS one of the game's emerging stars, but unassuming South Korean K.T. Kim will not buy into the hype and believes he has "over-performed" this year.

The 25-year-old stormed into the lead at the Australian PGA Championship yesterday with a flawless round of five-under-par 68 to move to 13-under for the tournament.

He holds a one-shot lead over big-hitting American Bubba Watson heading into today's final round at the Hyatt Regency Coolum.

Although ranked No.24 in the world and regarded by experts as a prolific putter, Kim remained modest.

"The performance I had this season up to September has been beyond my expectations," he said.

"If I do end up winning (today) it would be the icing on the cake."

Kim, among the best of the Internationals at last week's President's Cup, has many pundits singing his praises, including countryman Y.E. Yang.

Yang, the 2009 USA PGA Championship winner, said Kim could become the best player in South Korea, but Kim responded: "I think that is just YE's favouritism, speaking irrationally. I think I have a long way to go.

"If I ever go and play in the US PGA Tour there is going to be some kind of adjustment period for me where I am going to probably have a lot of trial and error.

"I think Y.E. said that because we are very close. I am very thankful for that comment but I still think that I need a lot of guidance from my seniors, especially Y.E. and K.J. (Choi).

"I still learn a lot every time I play with my fellow compatriots who have been more successful."

Australia's Ian Baker Finch, who won the 1991 British Open, lauded Kim's abilities with the flat stick, but the up-and-comer said: "I am a bit of a streaky putter really.

"You have seen the good side of my putting. You haven't seen the bad side yet," Kim added.

Still, Kim sunk some pivotal putts yesterday, including one for birdie on the par-five fifth, where playing partner Yang missed a crucial putt for par.

Kim's precise approach shots were another feature of his game.

"It is not my putting that has really had me get to this position," he said.

"It is more my second shot and my iron play that has really helped me play bogey free and hasn't really put me in a sticky situation."

Kim and Watson will play together today in the final group at Coolum today, but fellow Presidents Cup players Aaron Baddeley and Yang are also in the mix.

Baddeley, Yang, David Bransdon and round-two leader Marcus Fraser are three strokes behind Kim.

Four-time Australian PGA champion Robert Allenby was a shot further back at nine under after an up-and-down round of 69.

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