From journeyman to LIV Golf hero: Kalle Samooja - the heartwarming story of an iron-willed Finnish golfer

Finn says he is thrilled to join the game-changing league in 2024 but for the moment is looking forward to spending Christmas with his wife and kids

By Leslie Wilson Jr.

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Jinichiro Kozuma (L), Kalle Samooja (C)and Kieran Vincent celebrate after qualifying to play on the LIV Golf Tour next season. Photo X
Jinichiro Kozuma (L), Kalle Samooja (C)and Kieran Vincent celebrate after qualifying to play on the LIV Golf Tour next season. Photo X

Published: Tue 12 Dec 2023, 6:49 PM

Last updated: Tue 12 Dec 2023, 9:58 PM

Soon after Kalle Samooja claimed a career breakthrough win at the $1.5m LIV Golf Promotions tournament in Abu Dhabi, the first thing that he turned his attention to was not the riches that await on the Saudi-backed tour, but to his family back home in Finland.

Speaking shortly after he pocketed a cool $200,000 for his efforts over three days at the National Course, an emotional Samooja revealed his innermost feelings when he said: “I’m going to take a little Christmas break, that’s for sure.

“I can’t wait to get home. I’ve got a wife and three boys waiting at home, it’s been a long year. I miss them a lot.”

At 35-years-old Samooja is something of a veteran having played most of Europe’s top-flight golf courses since he turned pro in 2010.

Kalle Samooja with the LIV Golf Promotions trophy. Photo X
Kalle Samooja with the LIV Golf Promotions trophy. Photo X

Significant success was not forthcoming until he won the 2022 Porsche European Open in Winsen, Germany for his maiden and only DP World Tour victory.

However, what he accomplished in Abu Dhabi on Sunday by securing a spot on LIV Golf’s roster for the upcoming season, is sure to change his life forever.

“I’m very, very proud. This is a big step forward in my career,” said Samooja, as he struggled to control his feelings.

“It has been a helluva journey to get here. It’s a dream come true to get a chance to be on LIV Golf for next year.

Kalle Samooja played his best golf at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club. - Photo X
Kalle Samooja played his best golf at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club. - Photo X

“I’m really looking forward to my new chapter. I have always been following the teams and it’s going to bring a lot to me next year to be part of some team and hopefully lift a couple of trophies.”

Whatever the future holds in store for the Finn, post-Christmas with his wife Laura and three kids, will be well worth following.

Samooja displayed steadiness and consistency, two essential qualities for success in the precision sport of golf, while also displaying an inspirational and fighting spirit he has long exhibited since debuting at the European Tour Qualifying School in 2008.

He patiently honed and developed his skills on the Asian Tour, the DP World Tour, and the PGA Tour to become a more well-rounded golfer. The one we saw in Abu Dhabi last weekend.

Laura is a strong supporter of her husband Kalle's golfing endeavours. - Photo X
Laura is a strong supporter of her husband Kalle's golfing endeavours. - Photo X

The Turku-born golf star, who first picked up a golf club at the young age of eight following the advice of his father, would encounter many challenges and setbacks in his years as a professional.

Although he missed making it to the DP World Tour in 2008 during his spell at the European Tour Qualifying School. Samooja would bounce back ten years later and qualify for the Tour by winning the 2018 Hainan Open of the Challenge Tour.

After that year, things began to happen fast.

In 2022, at the age of 34, he won the Porsche European Open, which is the only trophy that resides on his mantel back home in Finland.

Ranked 286th in the world currently by the OWGR his only Top 10 finish this year was at the Acciona Open de España where he finished tied for the ninth place. However, he would also secure three other Top 25 finishes on European fairways this season leading up the Abu Dhabi.

During his up-and-down 13-year-long career, the Finnish golfer has played in 52 OWGR events while his best OWGR ranking has been 109th in the world.

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Samooja has amassed close to $2.5 million in career money, but his LIV Golf Promotions victory will have thrown open the gates to unbelievable opportunities for him along with Japan’s Jinichiro Kozuma and Zimbabwe’s Kieran Vincent, who also earned LIV Golf entries via the Abu Dhabi edition.

Finland has the 10th highest number of registered golfers in Europe who play at 125 courses. There are around 140,000 affiliated Finnish golfers, but those numbers could now be changing by the hour, the minute, thanks to Samooja hitting the big time.


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