KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) — He ranked as Joohyung Kim when he played in the 2020 PGA Championship at Harding Park as an 18-year-old, and when he nearly won the Genesis Scottish Open last summer with a sponsor exemption.
Now he is known by his nickname – Tom Kim – and his game. The 20-year-old South Korean won the Wyndham Championship, delivered a big performance at the Presidents Cup and defeated Patrick Cantlay in Las Vegas at the Shriners Children’s Open.
He is also the latest member of the Nike family.
Kim arrived in Kapalua wearing his hat, shirt and shoes, part of an endorsement deal he signed during the short offseason.
“It’s very beautiful to me,” Kim said. “Nike is definitely a brand where they only look at the best players and I’m very, very grateful that they thought of me. I think it’s a great move. It looks cool and I’m happy to be part of the swoosh team.”
It was previously sponsored by South Korea-based conglomerate CJ Corp., the title sponsor of the CJ Cup on the PGA Tour, and was seen on the hats and apparel of several South Korean players such as Sungjae Im, KH Lee and Si Woo Kim .
It’s an arrangement that reflects a more global nature of Tom Kim, who is already popular among his peers with his playfulness and sense of humor. Kim was born in South Korea and his family moved to Australia, and later to the Philippines.
“I wanted people to see on TV that I’m Korean, but I’m also not just an Asian,” said Kim, who speaks Korean and English with equal ease and still knows a little Tagalog. “I’m the only Asian golfer on the Nike team.”
KJ Choi, a pioneer of men’s golf in South Korea, was with Nike during its peak years.
Also important to Kim was his timing, and with minimal sponsorship, that helps.
“The timing was a big thing and having a clean look and being with a global brand was a big thing for me,” he said.
TRUMP INTERNATIONAL TO HOST EUROPEAN LADIES TOUR
The Saudi Arabia-backed Aramco Series on the Ladies European Tour is bringing women’s golf to Trump International Golf Club in Florida.
The LET announced a strong upgrade to its 2023 schedule, which will feature 30 tournaments including the Solheim Cup in Spain, playing for nearly $40 million (€35 million) in 21 countries.
Aramco (Saudi Arabian Oil Company) sponsors six tournaments. That includes the Aramco Saudi Ladies International with a $5 million purse, the largest in women’s golf, in addition to the five majors and the CME Group Tour Championship on the LPGA Tour. The field will include 60 players from the LET and 50 of the top 300 in the world.
The Aramco Series, previously won by Nelly Korda and Lexi Thompson, has five rounds in Singapore, Florida, London, Asia and Saudi Arabia.
The Florida stop is the Trump International in West Palm Beach and previously hosted the season-ending ADT Championship on the LPGA Tour. It was last played in 2008. It is scheduled for May 19-21. The LPGA Tour is off that week, playing last week in New Jersey (Founders Cup) and the following week in Las Vegas (Play Match).
“LET has grown rapidly over the past three years and we were oversubscribed for our last Q-school, demonstrating a record level of interest,” said Alexandra Armas, CEO of the tournament. “LET now provides a platform for women to build successful careers and achieve their dreams in professional golf.”
The season starts February 2-5 in Kenya and ends November 23-26 with the Andalucia Costa Del Sol Open in Spain.
Puerto Rico Open winner Ryan Brehm had plenty of exposure to golf growing up in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. For starters, his grandfather started a golf course designed by Mount Pleasant native and former PGA Tour player Dan Pohl called the PohlCat.
Brehm wasn’t even a teenager when another Mount Pleasant native walked by. That would be Kelly Robbins, a nine-time LPGA Tour winner, who had among the best swings on tour.
“Kelly would come home and she would practice there every now and then,” Brehm said.
He said Robbins often went out with her father to hit balls and fish, and he remembers one time Robbins brought a friend from the LPGA — World Golf Hall of Famer Karrie Webb.
“I would be there practicing and Karrie Webb would be there,” Brehm said. “I’m watching Kelly Robbins and Karrie Webb hit 9-irons on this pin and it was like, ‘Wow, that’s impressive.’ and they were lined up like dollar bills. It was very interesting to see.”
Brehm is making his Sentry Tournament of Champions debut as a first-time PGA Tour winner.
The PGA Tour and Warner Bros. Discovery restructured their 12-year, $2 billion deal signed in 2018, a move that allows the tour to manage international media rights in most markets, as it did before.
What does this mean for viewers of Discovery-owned GolfTV, which closed last month? Not much at all.
Discovery was the exclusive international distributor of PGA Tour content through GolfTV. PGA Tour coverage will now be available via Eurosport or Discovery+ in most European markets and some in Latin America.
The PGA Tour will manage international media rights for other markets, as it did prior to 2019.
“We are pleased that the restructured relationship will not disrupt viewership in 2023,” the tournament said in a letter to its media partners.
Warner Bros. Discovery said in a statement that the company changed to meet consumers’ viewing habits.
“In an evolving media landscape, we’ve found that embedding sports within a broader consumer offering provides greater value to subscribers and their wider family, as well as opening sports to an even larger audience, ” said the company.
Patrick Cantlay, the number 4 player in the world, is a free agent on the equipment market. He arrived in Kapalua in a black bag after his title contract expired and Cantlay chose not to renew it. Representatives from Callaway and Ping approached him about sending him clubs to try. Cantlay is carrying Titleist in the bag for the Sentry Tournament of Champions. … The Official World Golf Ranking has a new member. He says a 5-year development circuit supported by the Mexican Golf Federation will be incorporated into the OWGR system this year. The name of the tournament is Gira de Golf Professional de Mexicana. … Adam Scott is coming back from a long holiday in Australia. He’s playing both tournaments in Hawaii and then it’s back Down Under until the Genesis Invitational on the Riviera in mid-February. … Scott Langley is now leading player relations for the USGA, taking over when Jason Gore went to work for the PGA Tour. Langley retired in 2021 after a decade on the PGA Tour and Korn Ferry Tour.
STATE OF THE WEEK
Ryan Brehm closed out 2022 by missing his last nine outings. The Sentry Tournament of Champions is his first time playing a tournament without a cut.
THE LAST WORD
“The only reason I came and played on the PGA Tour was because when I played the majors, they felt like any other event.” – three-time major champion Padraig Harrington of Ireland.
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