Kris Kim is looking forward to competing in his first DP World Tour event at The Belfry

Surrey amateur star Kris Kim set to make PGA Tour debut

Surrey and England amateur sensation Kris Kim is to make his PGA Tour debut at next week’s THE CJ CUP Byron Nelson, which is being held at TPC Craig Ranch in Texas from May 2-5.

The 16-year-old star of last year’s Junior Ryder Cup, Kim will be facing the biggest test of his golfing life in Texas just weeks before sitting his GCSE exams back home in Surrey.

The teenager, who is a member at Walton Heath Golf Club, enjoyed a sparkling 2023 that included victories in the Boys’ Amateur Championship, European Boys’ Individual Championship and the McGregor Trophy.

The highlight of the year, however, was a stunning undefeated performance on his debut in the Junior Ryder Cup that saw him claim three wins and a half point in Europe’s first victory in the match since 2006. Among his notable victories that week was a 5&4 win over 15-year-old rising American star Miles Russell in the final day singles. Russell finished T20th at last week’s Korn Ferry Tour’s Suncoast Classic in Florida, becoming the youngest player to achieve a top-25 finish at that level in over 40 years.

Kris Kim won a trio of top amateur events last year, including the McGregor Trophy

Last May, Kim was unveiled as the first amateur golfer to be sponsored by the Korea-based CJ Group, joining a world class stable of tour players that includes Sungjae Im, Si Woo Kim, KH Lee and Byeong Hun An.

Having experienced the thrill of playing on the Ryder Cup course at Marco Simone during the practice days, in front of the sport’s biggest galleries, the youngster is now thrilled by the prospect of actually competing against the stars of the game after accepting a sponsor’s invitation to play in THE CJ CUP Byron Nelson.

“It’s an amazing opportunity, and I can’t wait to play in front of big crowds again”

Speaking ahead of his first PGA Tour start, Kim said: “I’m so excited to tee it up in Texas. It’s what you work towards all the time and it’s an amazing opportunity. I can’t wait to play in front of big crowds again. 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 that course, and a few more tour courses, I appreciate the enormity of the task ahead and am looking forward to the challenge.”

Ethan Kim, Director of Sports Marketing at CJ Group, said: “When I first saw Kris, I was very impressed by his passion for golf and his challenge to become No.1 in the world. I hope that his first appearance in a PGA TOUR tournament will be a good opportunity for him to achieve his big dream.”

Kim’s family is no stranger to top flight golf, as his mother, Ji-Hyun Suh, was one of the Korean pioneers who competed on the LPGA in the 1990s and inspired the wave of success that has been maintained ever since in both the men’s and women’s game.

“I’ll definitely ask my mum for advice,” he 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, keeping it simple, right through to course strategy.

“My first aim is to make the cut and then we’ll see what happens. At the end of the day, 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!”

Under Armour & TaylorMade support

Kim’s progress will be aided by the unprecedented support of two other sponsors.  He is the first European amateur to be signed to an NIL (Named Image and Likeness) contract by apparel and footwear brand Under Armour and the first British amateur to sign a similar deal with golf equipment company TaylorMade.

“Under Armour have helped me for some time now,” Kim said. “I’m very grateful for their support and very happy to continue the partnership.”

Kevin Ross, Managing Director at Under Armour EMEA, said: “It’s great to be working with such an exciting talent as Kris. His hard work ethic and humble nature aligns with the values of Under Armour perfectly. We look forward to supporting Kris reach his goals over the coming years.”

Of his equipment deal, Kim said: “I’m a huge fan of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, so when they signed for TaylorMade I desperately wanted to use their clubs too. I’ve been doing so for three years and signing for them is very exciting.”

Kim is signed to London-based sports management company Trinifold Sports which is developing a stable of talented English players that also includes DP World Tour players Sam Bairstow and Will Enefer, plus Stoke Park’s John Gough, who recently turned professional following an elite amateur career.