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Kris Kim, 16, shoots 68 in PGA TOUR debut at THE CJ CUP Byron Nelson

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    Written by Paul Hodowanic @PaulHodowanic

    McKINNEY, Texas – 16-year-old Kris Kim received sound advice before his PGA TOUR debut at THE CJ CUP Byron Nelson on Thursday morning.

    “At the end of the day, it's just hitting a golf ball around, and then whatever you shoot, whatever you shoot,” Kim’s mom Ji-Hyun Suh, a former LPGA player in the 1990s, told her teenage son.

    The accomplishment for the week would be the experience gained for Kim – process over results. But Kim can be proud of the results, too. The English amateur shot a first-round 68 with two chip-ins, beating the field average and setting himself up with a chance to make the cut.

    Kim would be the youngest player to make the cut in a PGA TOUR event since Kyle Suppa, 16, made the cut at the 2015 Sony Open in Hawaii.

    What’s in Kris Kim’s bag?

    “I would say it was pretty good,” Kim said of his 68 at TPC Craig Ranch. “Conditions out there were pretty easy today, especially with the greens having a bit of rain. But, yeah, I would say 3-under I would definitely take.”

    Kim opened with a par on the 10th, his first hole of the day, then birdied the 11th, holing a 15-footer. That calmed the nerves, which Kim admitted were “pretty high.” After bogeys on 12 and 15, Kim chipped in for birdie on 16 and birdied the par-5 18th to make the turn in 1-under 34. He offset two bogeys on the inward nine with a pair of birdies, then chipped in again on the par-5 ninth, hooping his pitch from 67 feet away for eagle.

    16-year-old Kris Kim eagles final hole to shoot 68 at THE CJ CUP

    “I would say short game is my strength, but just got lucky a bit today,” Kim said.

    Regardless of luck, Kim’s round continues a remarkable trend of young phenoms performing on the PGA TOUR stage. Two weeks ago, 15-year-old Miles Russell became the youngest player to make the cut in a Korn Ferry Tour event. He finished T20 and became the youngest on record (since 1983) to notch a top-25 finish on the PGA TOUR or Korn Ferry Tour.

    Kim bested Russell 5&4 in a singles match last fall in the 2023 Junior Ryder Cup. While Russell has gained notoriety as the No. 1 junior in the world, Kim’s resume is littered with accomplishments, too.

    In 2023, Kim won the Boys’ Amateur Championship, the European Boys’ Individual Championship and the McGregor Trophy. He is the first amateur golfer to be sponsored by CJ Group, which sponsors numerous pro golfers, including Sungjae Im, Si Woo Kim, K.H. Lee and Byeong Hun An. Kim is the first European amateur to sign an NIL contract with Under Armour and the first British amateur to sign an NIL deal with TaylorMade. He went undefeated in the Junior Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, claiming 3.5 points as Europe won the event for the first time since 2006.

    Kim could do one better than Russell if he makes the cut this week in a PGA TOUR event. With an abundance of low scores, it will take another round like Thursday’s for Kim to make it a reality.

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