Anthony Kim eyeing first Asian title

Anthony Kim hopes to carry his new found confidence into the Iskandar Johor Open when he tees off in Malaysia on Thursday.

Anthony Kim of the United States is hoping to carry his new found confidence into the Iskandar Johor Open when he tees off in Malaysia on Thursday.

Kim, one of America’s hot young prospects, is expected to be one of the main headline grabbers at the Horizon Hills Golf and Country Club along with title holder and three-time major winner Padraig Harrington of Ireland, 2010 British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa and leading Swede Henrik Stenson.

Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand and Indian star Jeev Milkha Singh will spearhead the Asian challenge alongside Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines, the runner up in last week’s Barclays Singapore Open and the new Asian Tour Order of Merit leader, in an event that is being co-sanctioned by the Asian and European Tours.

Kim, a three-time PGA Tour winner, hopes he can finally land a title in Asia after his tied-for-third places at the CJ Invitational hosted by KJ Choi in October and at Barclays Singapore Open.

“It’s been good (in Asia). I didn’t know what to expect here as far as my own play was concerned. Fortunately, I’ve been able to find my game and confidence and that’s the biggest difference out here,” said Kim, a Californian whose parents were born in Korea.

“I am having more confidence and believing that my shots are going to go towards the pin and into the hole. As far as technique, nothing has changed. I did some of my best work the day before I came out to Asia; hit a couple of solid iron shots which I’ve not been hitting and some fades with the driver which were nice,” the 26-year-old said.

Kim knows a victory at the Iskandar Johor Open, which will be his last event for the year, will fuel his ambitions of breaking into the world’s top-50 in the World Rankings where he currently lies in 81st place.

“That’s the goal. The Majors are obviously high on the list, but I’m just trying to get better every single week. It seems to be happening. I just need to play better and hopefully have a chance to win this week,” said Kim.

Camilo Villegas of Colombia, Colin Montgomerie of Scotland, SSP. Chowrasia of India and Danny Lee of New Zealand could also feature high on the leaderboard at the Iskandar Johor Open.

Past winners of the Johor Open include Artemio Murakami of the Philippines, who won the inaugural event in 2007, South African Retief Goosen, who took home first prize in 2008, KJ Choi, who lifted the trophy in 2009, and Ireland’s Padraig Harrington who ended a two-year winless run in 2010 with a very popular win here.