Kurt Kitayama

Published on   2023-05-01 by Kai

Kurt Shun Kitayama (born January 14, 1993) is an American professional golfer who plays on the PGA Tour. On the European Tour, he won the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open in December 2018 and the Oman Open in March 2019, and won the Arnold Palmer Invitational on the PGA Tour in March 2023.

Kitayama was born in Chico, California, 140 kilometers north of Sacramento, and graduated from Chico High School in 2011. Although he is only 6-foot-6, he was a senior co-captain and starting point guard for the basketball team. He led the Panthers to a 27-2 record and the 2011 California Northern Section title. In the championship game, he scored 31 points and had 6 assists as Chico beat cross-town rival Pleasant Valley High School 67-54.

Kitayama's older brother Daniel played golf at the University of Hawaii at Hilo in 2007-2008 and later worked as a professional caddie.

Player of the Year 2009

Kitayama finished third at the 2009 Callaway Junior World Golf Championships in the 15-17 age category at the 2008 U.S. Open. Played on the Torrey Pines South Course in San Diego, California, against an international field that included Bryson DeChambeau. Kitayama was named the 2009 Player of the Year by the Junior Golf Association of Northern California.

After high school, Kitayama attended the University of Nevada-Las Vegas from 2011 to 2015, where he was named to the Academic-All Mountain West Team for three consecutive years. He won the Jackrabbit Invitational in Primm, Nevada, in both 2014 and 2015, and Kitayama's best finish in the World Amateur Golf Rankings was 47th.

In 2015, Kurt Kitayama turned professional. In 2016 and 2017, he played mainly on the Web.com Tour. However, his success was limited. He was therefore ranked 1174th in the world rankings at the end of 2017.

In 2018, Kitayama played mainly on the Asian Tour. He played a single Asian Development Tour tournament, the PGM Darulaman Championship in Malaysia, which he won.

He achieved some good finishes on the Asian Tour, including 4th place at the New Zealand Open. This was followed by 2nd place in the Royal Cup and 4th place in the Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup Golf, an event organized jointly with the Japan Golf Tour.

Fastest player on the European Tour

In November 2018, he finished 3rd at the European Tour Q-School, securing a spot on the 2019 European Tour, and won the very second tournament of the season, the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open, held at the end of 2018, by two strokes. The tournament was held jointly with the Sunshine Tour and the Asian Tour. The win moved him into the top 200 in the world rankings. In March 2019, he became the "fastest player" with two wins in the history of the European Tour. The reason for this was his victory at the Oman Open. He needed only a total of 11 tournament appearances on the tour to do so.

He earned his PGA Tour card in September 2021 with a 23rd-place finish at the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. In February 2022, he finished 3rd at The Honda Classic. He improved his performance in May 2022, finishing second at the Mexico Open. In March 2023, he earned his first PGA Tour victory when he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

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