December 03, 2014 10:09
Golf sensation Kim Hyo-joo has signed a five-year sponsorship renewal worth W6.5 billion with Lotte Group after a bumper season (US$1=W1,111).
"It hasn't sunk in -- getting such a big deal at my age," Kim said. "I feel a bit of pressure but will try hard to stay on top of my game while enjoying it."
Lotte Group will pay Kim W1.3 billion each year, up from W600 million under the previous contract, and will also offer performance bonuses. If she wins a title, the bonus will be 70 percent of the prize money. A top-five finish earns a 30 percent bonus.
The deal is short Pak Se-ri's five-year sponsorship with CJ in 2002, which gave her W2 billion each year and maximum of W15 billion for five years. But it does surpass Shin Ji-yai's five-year W5 billion deal, exclusive of bonus, signed with Mirae Asset in 2009.
Other bonus opportunities will further encourage Kim to perform well. If she tops the money leaderboard in the U.S. LPGA, she will earn W300 million, and if she becomes World No. 1, she will receive W500 million. A career grand slam -- winning four major titles -- is worth W1 billion.
If she can maintain her level of performance, she is expected to net some W800 million in bonuses each year as she joins the LPGA Tour full time.
Kim has earned W4.1 billion from sponsorship, prize money and incentives this season.
The lucrative renewal is based on her performance this year, the best yet in her career. She participated in 23 competitions on the KLPGA Tour this season, never missed a cutoff, won five titles and saw 18 top-10 finishes. She was the best golfer in the tour in four categories: prize money, scoring average, putt average and most wins.
She also won the Evian Championship, one of the five major tournaments on the LPGA, in France in September in her debut major tournament, securing a full seed on the U.S. Tour.
"I'm very happy about my performance," she said. "Since I was Rookie of the Year in Korea this year, I want to be the same in the U.S. next year."
Kim will split her time between Korea and the U.S. next year. She plans to compete in seven or eight tournaments in the KLPGA and has less concrete plans for the LPGA Tour.
"Many fans think I won't come to Korea often next year, but I will participate in many events at home," she said. "Of course, English is important in the U.S., but I will focus on my physical strength for now."
Kim's next competition is at the Miyoshi Country Club in Japan, where Korean and Japanese female golfers will compete from Saturday. She will resume full training in Thailand in early January.
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