Korea’s K.H. Lee stuck in squid game survival for playoffs berth at Wyndham Championship


K.H. Lee is probably feeling like he’s caught up in Squid Game, the survival Korean drama series created for Netflix.


With one event, this week’s Wyndham Championship remaining on the PGA TOUR’s 2022-23 Regular Season, Lee is stuck in a fight to qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs where he is three rungs outside the top-70.


Unlike compatriots Tom Kim (14th), Si Woo Kim (18th), Sungjae Im (36th) and Byeong Hun An (52nd) who are assured of a start in next week’s FedEx St. Jude Championship, which is the first of three Playoffs event, the 31-year-old Lee needs at least a 30th place finish or better this week to have a chance of joining them and extend his Playoffs appearances to five consecutive seasons.


“It's like a survival game … if you don't make it in this tournament, you're out. It makes me a little more nervous but I think it can help me in a way,” said Lee, who is a two-time PGA TOUR winner.


“I'm very aware I'm on the bubble. But I have a lot of confidence because I need to play well to move up and get a ticket for the Playoffs,” said Lee, who is ranked 73rd and 27 points behind 70th ranked Austin Eckroat.

Lee’s campaign began well with a couple of top-10s early on and consistent finishes kept him inside the top-70 on the FedExCup points list for much of the season. But since June, his smooth-flowing game has gone out of synch and he has since missed six cuts in his last seven starts to fall outside the Playoffs bracket.


This week will be his fifth visit to Sedgefield Country Club, which has celebrated Korean winners in Si Woo Kim (2016) and Tom Kim (2022). Lee’s best finish at the Wyndham Championship was T24 two years ago.


“The course here is very narrow, so tee shots are very important. I'm focusing on my tee shots, and I'm working on my putting too because I’ll need to make a lot of birdies when I get the chance,” said Lee, who qualified for the TOUR Championship for the first time last season.

“Last year, I started outside the Top-30 before the TOUR Championship but I was able to advance to the final event because I played well at the BMW Championship. I was less greedy then and I have good memories of it, so I think I can get good results this week if I am less greedy and focus on my game.”


He is not fighting only for a place in the Playoffs but is also aiming to be inside the top-50, which guarantees starts in all of next season’s designated events.


“Of course, it's very important. I know that if I do well in the Playoffs and finish 70th, 50th, and 30th, I have an advantage for next year. It would be best if that happens but if it doesn't, it's just a reminder to prepare even more in the future. If I don't get disappointed and keep up my game, I think I can make it to the big tournaments again,” said Lee.


Compatriot and rookie S.H. Kim is also in a similar boat as Lee. Kim, a graduate from the Korn Ferry Tour, enters the week in 78th position and requires at least a solo 18th place finish or better to have a mathematical chance of extending his season for at least another week.


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