16-year-old youngest to make Tour cut in 11 years

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Kris Kim, a 16-year-old English amateur playing on a sponsor exemption at the CJ Cup Byron Nelson, became the youngest player in 11 years to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Kim finished his second round Friday with a birdie for a 4-under 67. At 7-under 135, he was among 66 players who made the cut, which was 6 under. Jake Knapp was the leader at 14-under 128.

Guan Tianlang was 14 when he made the cut at both the Masters and Zurich Classic of New Orleans in 2013, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

At 16 years, seven months old, Kim is the fifth-youngest player ever to make a PGA Tour cut, according to the Tour. His feat also comes just two weeks after Miles Russell, 15, became the youngest to make the cut in the 35-year history of the Korn Ferry Tour.

Kim, who is the son of former LPGA Tour player and South Korea native Ji-Hyun Suh, is making his PGA Tour debut. He is the first amateur sponsored by South Korean company CJ Group, which is the title sponsor of the Nelson for the first time.

“I’m happy,” Kim said. “I can’t wait to get started again tomorrow.

“I’ve enjoyed it so much the last couple days, and being here two more days makes it so much sweeter.”

A first-time Tour winner earlier this year, Knapp, enters the weekend with sole possession of the lead after a second consecutive 7-under 64 in McKinney, Texas. At 14-under 128, he was a stroke ahead of Troy Merritt (62) and first-round leader Matt Wallace (66), and two ahead of Kelly Kraft (66).

“Even when I was doing any of that stuff, I always knew this was what I wanted to do, and felt like it’s where I should be. Just wasn’t there yet,” said Knapp, just more than two years removed from working security at a restaurant in his hometown that was also a late-night hotspot. “Just kept working away and sticking at it.”

Merritt closed his season-low round with an eagle at the 531-yard ninth hole, where he hit his approach to 16 feet and made the putt. He had birdied four of the previous six holes.

Wallace finished on the same par 5 later in the day, and saved par after driving into a native area and then chunking a shot from there to under a bridge.

Hometown favorite Jordan Spieth, the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 20, shot a 70 to finish at 4-under 138 and miss the cut by two strokes. On the 16th, his wayward drive ricocheted off the elbow of a male spectator back into the fairway. He still bogeyed the hole, then parred his last two.

Defending champion Jason Day closed his round with a 35-foot par putt for a 70, and was just on the cut line at 6-under 136.

Knapp’s only bogey through the first two rounds was on his 12th hole Friday, the dogleg No. 3, where his drive went into the left rough. But he birdied four of his last six holes, that stretch starting with a 32-foot putt at the par-3, 192-yard fourth hole.

“Obviously, a putt you’re not trying to make,” he said. “Hit it a little bit harder than I would’ve liked and luckily it was on a good line and went in.”

Knapp, who turns 30 on May 31, lost his card on the developmental Korn Ferry Tour before taking the part-time job in the fall of 2021 at the place in Costa Mesa, California, where for nearly nine months he worked Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights – often until 2 or 3 a.m. The former UCLA player would practice and go to the gym in between his work shifts.

He got his third win on PGA Tour Canada in August 2022, and last year earned his PGA Tour card by finishing the season 13th on the Korn Ferry Tour. He won the Mexico Open in his fifth start this season, and his ninth overall, including two as an amateur in 2015.

His PGA Tour biography also touts that he can solve a Rubik’s Cube, loves to work out and would pursue a career in the fitness industry if he wasn’t playing golf.

“Yeah, few interesting ones about me,” Knapp said. “I do my best to, I’m kind of a golf-only guy. Just play a lot of golf and practice a lot. That’s been my focus for the last four, five years.”

At TPC Craig Ranch north of Dallas, Knapp hit 16 of 18 greens each of the first two rounds. He also had the same number of putts (28) both days, though the combined distance of those shots on the greens went from 75 feet on Thursday to 139 feet on Friday.

“For the most part hitting it pretty solid and keeping in the right areas. Made it relatively easy on myself.” Knapp said. “Early on in the year felt like I was putting well, and for the last month or so the stroke felt the same and ball wasn’t going in the hole. … Nice to see a few more going in.”

Merritt opened his round with consecutive birdies before a three-putt bogey at No. 12, though he got that stroke right back with a 52-foot chip-in at No. 13. He made only his second cut in his past six tournaments, and finished 67th in the other one.

“It’s fantastic, especially when you hit the ball solid and making a lot putts,” said Merritt, who is in his 331st PGA Tour event and last won in 2018. “You’re not accidentally there. You’ve actually played well to get there. I haven’t done that. I’ve accidently back-doored a couple top 10s last fall.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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