English teen Kim ‘excited’ to make PGA Tour debut

Home » English teen Kim ‘excited’ to make PGA Tour debut

Within a fortnight of English amateur Lottie Woad making the cut on her major debut, an even younger British golfer is now preparing to make a first appearance on the PGA Tour.

Starting on Thursday, Surrey-based 16-year-old Kris Kim, who starred in Europe’s victory at last year’s junior Ryder Cup, will compete in Texas against some of the best players in the world.

The field at the CJ Cup Byron Nelson at TPC Craig Ranch includes former number ones Jordan Spieth, Adam Scott and Jason Day.

Kim, last year’s winner of the Boys’ Amateur title as well as the European Individual Championship and McGregor Trophy, is regarded as the outstanding teenage prospect in English men’s golf.

He has already signed a string of sponsorship deals under relaxed rules on contracts for amateur players. His backing from the CJ Group has resulted in a sponsor’s invitation to play this week.

“I’m so excited to tee it up in Texas,” Kim said. “It’s what you work towards all the time and it’s an amazing opportunity.”

The teenager is the son of South Korean former LPGA player Ji-Hyun Suh. “I’ll definitely ask my mum for advice,” Kim said. “It is going to be a very different environment and you don’t know how you will respond to it.

“She’ll help me deal with it. She’s my coach and we talk about everything from dealing with nerves, taking one shot at a time, leaving bad shots behind and keeping it simple, right through to course strategy.

“My first aim is to make the cut and then see what happens. I’m one of 144 competitors and we’ve all got a chance.

“Whatever happens it’s going to be super helpful for my future because I’ll gain so much experience. I know I’m still young and pretty much every week I learn a lesson, but this week is going to be a lot bigger.”

Kim picked up the game as a junior at Cuddington Golf Club in Surrey, where he would be seen practising relentlessly after school and during holidays.

“I’ve never known a more dedicated youngster,” Cuddington’s director of golf Paul Schunter told BBC Sport. “And he could not have asked for better parents.

“They have been so encouraging. All the pushing has come from Kris because he has always wanted to play and practice more and more.”

Kim emerged under the captaincy of DP World Tour star Stephen Gallacher at the junior Ryder Cup last September. He won three and a half points out of four; beating 15-year-old Miles Russell 5&4 in the singles at Marco Simone near Rome.

Last week, Russell created his own headlines in the United States by making the cut in the Korn Ferry Tour’s Suncoast Classic in Florida.

“I can’t wait to play in front of big crowds again,” Kim said. “I’ve never hit the ball as far as I did at the Ryder Cup.

“The adrenalin rush makes golf so much fun. That said, having played the course, and a few more tour courses, I appreciate the task ahead and look forward to the challenge.”

Leading figures at England Golf regard Kim and Woad as the country’s two leading prospects. Woad, 20, won the recent Augusta National Women’s Amateur by birdieing the last two holes at the home of the Masters.

That victory brought an invitation to play the Chevron Championship earlier this month at Carlton Woods in Texas. Woad was inside the top 10 at the halfway stage while a string of superstars, including Ireland’s Leona Maguire and Celine Boutier of France, missed the cut.

Woad finished in a share of 23rd place before returning to Florida State University where she is now juggling her studies with elite amateur and college tournaments.

Kim, meanwhile, is anticipating a PGA Tour debut while studying for his GCSEs. “I am trying to revise, I promise, but it’s quite tough,” he laughed. “My schedule is quite busy right now.”

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