Cal junior Michael Kim decides to turn pro
Michael Kim has been outside the ropes at the Farmers Insurance Open the past decade.
In 2014, many eyes will now be on him.
On Jan. 23, the reigning Haskins Award winner from Cal will tee it up with the world's best at Torrey Pines -- making his pro debut on a sponsor's exemption.
"I'm sure i'll be real nervous on that first tee," said Kim of playing in front of a home crowd in his native San Diego, where he went to Torrey Pines High School.
Kim formally announced he was leaving school midway through his junior season Thursday night. Reached via telephone after 10 p.m. PST, Kim said the call to Cal's head coach Steve Desimone and assistant coach Walter Chun "was the toughest call I've ever had to make."
But after receiving a conditional Web.com Tour card after finishing T-56 at Q-School earlier this week -- he was seventh after the fourth of six rounds at PGA West -- Kim felt that his game was in good enough shape to take it to the next level.
"I didn't have that much to gain from college at this point," said Kim. "Kind of bummed I never got to win an NCAA Championship. But I feel like I am ready to take the next step."
Kim joins former Cal teammate Max Homa on the Web.com Tour after Homa finished T-6 at Q-School. The departures leave Cal without two of its starting five from last season's record-breaking team that won 11 times.
"It'll be nice to see a familiar face (on the Web.com Tour)," said Kim.
While the loss of its No. 1 player will sting the Golden Bears -- who won three times this fall -- Desimone was nothing but supportive of Kim's decision.
“Michael has left a fabulous legacy at Cal and will always be a great Golden Bear,” head coach Steve Desimone said in a release from the school. “We wish him all the best in his professional career.”
Kim will leave his No. 3 slot in the World Amateur Golf Rankings behind, not to mention a bevy of awards he won after his outstanding sophomore campaign -- Pac 12 Player of the Year, Jack Nicklaus Award winner and Golfstat Cup recipient, while also ending the season at No. 1 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings.
Kim also played for the U.S. on both the victorious Palmer Cup and Walker Cup squads in 2013.
His success did cross over into the pro game, finishing T-17 at the U.S. Open at Merion -- where he was in the top 5 on Sunday before a late fall -- and made the cut at the Greenbrier Classic in 2013.
But now he has an uphill climb to try and gain his full Web.com Tour card, which he considers to be his first mission as a professional.
"I want to play a full season on the Web.com Tour, so I am going to have to take advantage of my opportunities early and play well," said Kim. "I am just excited to see if my game stacks up against the best in the world."