SAN DIEGO - Embarking on a career as a professional golfer can be daunting, but Michael Kim will likely benefit from some familiar surroundings this week at the Farmers Insurance Open as he makes his pro debut following a successful college career at Cal.
A graduate of nearby Torrey Pines High School, Kim received a sponsor's exemption into this week's field and will now tee it up against some of the game's best on a pair of courses he admits to having played hundreds of times.
"I couldn't think of a better scenario really to have my first tournament here," explained Kim, who won the Nicklaus Award in 2013 as the top player in NCAA Division I golf. "It's the one I've watched the most and I've played this golf course probably the most. I'm pretty excited."
Kim returned to Cal following his breakthrough summer season - a stint during which he also tied for 17th at the U.S. Open - and competed at Web.com Tour Q-School in November as an amateur. Following that event, though, he decided to test his game at the next level by turning pro, a journey that he will begin this week at Torrey Pines.
"I thought real hard about it and it just seemed like it was the right time to move on. I felt like I've accomplished as much as I can throughout my amateur and college career," he noted. "That phone call I had to make to both my coaches and the guys on the team was probably the hardest phone call I've ever had to make."
With conditional status on the Web.com Tour for the 2014 season, Kim's schedule for the rest of the year remains in flux, though he intends to play in next month's Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship, where he has received a sponsor's invite. Before heading to Colombia, though, the 20-year-old plans to savor his professional debut this week in front of friends and family.
"I've noticed I play my best when I don't have too many expectations on myself and just feel relaxed out there. Hopefully I make the cut, but that's about it," he added. "I'm just going out there to have fun and be relaxed."