At 20 years old, South Korean Joohyung “Tom” Kim became the second-youngest golfer to win a PGA Tour event since World War II, when he won the Wyndham Championship in August. There Kim proved he’s poised enough to overcome considerable adversity on the green. His Wyndham Championship run began terribly, as he hit a quadruple bogey on the first hole, but he finished the event five shots ahead of second place. Kim is the first player in 40 years to come back and win a PGA Tour event after a quadruple bogey or worse on the opening hole.
Kim joins Tiger Woods as one of only two golfers in the past 80 years to win two PGA Tour events before their 21st birthday — and he doesn’t turn 21 until June.
Kim’s ascension has been quick. In October 2021, he was the PGA Tour’s 149th ranked golfer, but he’s now ranked 14th in the world.
Smith Poised to Make Noise in World Cup
Last year, 22-year-old Sophia Smith established herself as one of the brightest young soccer players in decades. She kicked off 2023 by becoming the youngest (since Mia Hamm in 1994) to win the U.S. Female Player of the Year award after a 2022 season that saw her become the youngest ever National Women’s Soccer League MVP. Smith also led her Portland Thorns team to a league championship and was the Finals MVP.
With the whole world watching, Smith has the chance to prove that her on-field dominance isn’t limited to U.S. soil.
In 21 games last season, Smith scored 15 goals, including one during Portland’s 2-0 win over Kansas City in the championship match. She also scored a goal during the U.S. Women’s National Team’s international friendly against Germany in November.
So how could Smith possibly surpass a near-perfect 2022? She is too young to have competed in the previous FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2019, but she’s expected to play an important role for Team USA in the World Cup this summer in Australia and New Zealand. With the whole world watching, Smith has the chance to prove that her on-field dominance isn’t limited to U.S. soil. If she plays an integral part in winning a World Cup for the U.S. this August, it could make her a household name.
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From France, Once-in-a-Generation Talent
Every few years, a rising young basketball player is expected to have such an impact on the NBA’s future that there’s suspicion of teams “tanking” — intentionally losing games in order to improve chances at landing the number-one pick in the subsequent NBA Draft.
Enter Victor Wembanyama, a 7'3" 19-year-old sensation from France who has had teams anticipating the chance to pick him up in the 2023 NBA Draft for more than a year now. Wembanyama also has a 8’0” wingspan and is being touted as a once-in-a-generation talent. His ball-handling and shooting skills have fans likening him to a taller version of perennial All-Star Kevin Durant.
For more than a year now, this 7'3" 19-year-old sensation from France has had NBA teams anticipating the chance to pick him up in the 2023 Draft.
Wembanyama has yet to prove himself against NBA talent, but in the Metropolitans’ second straight exhibition game against the NBA-affiliate G League Ignite in October, he dropped 36 points plus 11 rebounds and four blocks to lead his team to a win. He also scored 37 in a loss the game before. The Ignite features Scoot Henderson, who is expected to be a top-2 pick in this year’s draft.
Dominating Gymnast Follows in Big Footsteps
Konnor McClain is a 17-year-old gymnast whose early dominance has already prompted comparisons with some of the all-time greats. In August, McClain won the senior all-around competition and gold in the balance beam at her debut in the U.S. Gymnastics Championship. Since 2000, five other women have also won the all-around competition during their first senior nationals appearance; all five later won Olympic and/or world all-around titles, with the most recent being none other than Simone Biles.
On Steve Harvey’s show “Little Big Shots,” McClain explained that she started gymnastics at just 18 months old.
McClain, who turns 18 on Feb. 1, won gold in the all-around at the 2022 City of Jesolo Trophy international competition last April, but missed the world gymnastics championships this past fall due to a back injury.
At age 11, McClain appeared on Steve Harvey’s show Little Big Shots, where she explained that she started gymnastics at just 18 months old, and told Harvey she wanted to win the Olympic all-around title in 2024. That’s a goal that, back then, might have seemed far-fetched — but looks increasingly plausible today.
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