Tom Kim starts the new year with a new sponsor and a swoosh
KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) — He was listed 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 on a sponsor exemption.
Now he’s known by his nickname — Tom Kim — and by his game. The 20-year-old South Korean won the Wyndham Championship, delivered a big performance in the Presidents Cup and outdueled Patrick Cantlay in Las Vegas at the Shriners Children’s Open.
He also is the latest member of the Nike family.
Kim arrived at Kapalua sporting the swoosh on his cap, his shirt and his shoes, part of an endorsement deal he signed during the short offseason.
“It’s very cool for me,” Kim said. “Nike is definitely a brand where they only look at top players and I’m very, very grateful they thought about me. I think it’s a great move. It looks cool and I’m glad to be part of the swoosh team.”
He previously was sponsored by South Korea-based conglomerate CJ Corp., the title sponsor of the CJ Cup on the PGA Tour and seen on the caps and apparel of several South Korean players such as Sungjae Im, K.H. Lee and Si Woo Kim.
It’s a deal that reflects a more global nature of Tom Kim, who already is popular among his peers with his game 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 am 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.”
K.J. Choi, a pioneer for men’s golf in South Korea, was with Nike during his peak years.
Also important to Kim was his time, and with minimal sponsorship, that helps.
“The time 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 LADIES EUROPEAN TOUR
The Saudi-backed Aramco Series on the Ladies European Tour is bringing women’s golf back 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 euros) 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 except for the five majors and the CME Group Tour Championship on the LPGA Tour. The field will comprise 60 players from the LET and 50 from among the top 300 in the world.
The Aramco Series, tournaments that previously have been won by Nelly Korda and Lexi Thompson, has five tournaments in Singapore, Florida, London, Asia and Saudi Arabia.
The Florida stop is 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’s scheduled for May 19-21. The LPGA Tour is off that week, playing the previous week in New Jersey (Founders Cup) and the following week in Las Vegas (Match Play).
“The LET has grown rapidly over the last three years and we have been oversubscribed for our recent Q-school, demonstrating the record level of interest,” said Alexandra Armas, the CEO of the tour. “The LET now presents a platform for women to build a successful career and achieve their dreams in professional golf.”
The season starts Feb. 2-5 in Kenya and concludes Nov. 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 PohlCat.
Brehm was not even a teenager when another Mount Pleasant native used to drop 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 out there occasionally,” Brehm said.
He said Robbins often came out with her dad to hit balls and fish, and he recalls once Robbins bringing a friend from the LPGA -- World Golf Hall of Fame member Karrie Webb.
“I’d be over there practicing and Karrie Webb would be there,” Brehm said. “I’m watching Kelly Robbins and Karrie Webb hit 9-irons at this pin and it was like, ‘Wow, this is impressive.’ Every shot was a laser beam. The ball flew properly. It was compressed. I’d go over there and look at the divots and they were lined up like dollar bills. That was pretty cool to see.”
Brehm is making his debut in the Sentry Tournament of Champions as a first-time PGA Tour winner.
The PGA Tour and Warner Bros. Discovery have 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 that mean for viewers of Discovery-owned GolfTV, which was shuttered last month? Not much at all.
Discovery was the exclusive international distributor of PGA Tour content through GolfTV. PGA Tour coverage now will be available through 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 before 2019.
“We’re pleased that the restructured relationship will not disrupt viewership in 2023,” the tour said in a letter to its media partners.
Warner Bros. Discovery said in a statement the company changed to meet consumers’ viewing habits.
“In an evolving media landscape, we have found that including sport within a broader consumer offer provides greater value to subscribers and their wider household, as well as opening up sports to an even bigger audience,” the company said.
Patrick Cantlay, the No. 4 player in the world, is a free agent in the equipment market. He arrived at Kapalua with a black bag after his Titleist deal expired and Cantlay chose not to renew it. Representatives from Callaway and Ping approached him about sending him clubs to try. Cantlay is keeping Titleist in the bag for the Sentry Tournament of Champions. ... The Official World Golf Ranking has a new member. It says a 5-year-old developmental circuit supported by the Mexico Golf Federation will be included in the OWGR system this year. The name of the tour is the Gira de Golf Professional de Mexicana. ... Adam Scott is coming off a long break in Australia. He is playing both Hawaii tournaments and then heading back Down Under until the Genesis Invitational at Riviera in the middle of 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.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Ryan Brehm ended 2022 by missing the cut in his last nine tournaments. The Sentry Tournament of Champions is his first time playing a tournament with no cut.
“The only reason I came and played the PGA Tour was so that when I played majors, they felt like the same as every other event.” — three-time major champion Padraig Harrington of Ireland.
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