April 2, 2011
University of Michigan senior men's golfer Lion Kim will play in the 2011 Masters, with tournament week running Monday through Sunday, April 4-10, at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga. He earned an invitation by winning the 2010 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship.
Missing the Maize and Blue
After playing in 49 straight events for Michigan, Lion Kim is missing his first collegiate event to compete in the 2011 Masters.
Away from a team event from the first time since 2008, he was glued to his phone to get updates from LSU Invitational.
"I am not going to lie; my mind was on how they were doing all day," he said. "This is the first tournament I have ever missed at U-M. I knew they understood my position, but it is still not quite the same not being there. I knew our team was deep and we are definitely showing that now. I am very happy for them."
The Wolverines closed the first day with a one-shot lead. They will finish the event with 18 holes Sunday morning. [ Live Stats at the LSU Invitational ]
The Fast and the Furious
Anyone who knows Lion Kim knows his affinity for high performance cars. So it was no surprise that driving his courtesy car for the week -- a silver Mercedes Benz S400 Hybrid -- actually took precedence over Saturday's practice round.
"I have to admit I was a little more excited to get the car today, than to practice," he said of the luxury vehicle. "As soon as I got it I took it for a test drive. Then for lunch I went back to the hotel just to get a chance to drive it again. Even tonight after dinner I just took it out for another spin."
Bring on the Par 3 Contest
Kim has signed up to play in the Par 3 Contest Wednesday and will tee off at 1:05 p.m. He has not been assigned playing partners as of yet.
"It was suggested to me to get out there early," he said. "I didn't want to be the first group out. I wanted to get out in the middle to get a feel how things worked and to watch others hit shots ahead of me. I am looking forward to having some fun at the event."
Advice from Rory
Following breakfast, Kim was on the practice green looking to get on the back nine. Rory Sabbatini teed off on No. 10, just ahead of him. Waiting his turn, Kim was surprised when Sabbatini waved him up to join his group, which included Hiroyuki Fujita.
"We talked a lot today," said Kim. "He was a real gentleman. He gave me a lot of tips of where to hit certain shots and how to approach holes. This is his ninth Masters, so he has a lot of experience on this golf course. I learned a lot from him today."
Kim said the best advice he received from Sabbatini was not to get used to the current speed of the greens.
"He just said if I thought these were fast just to wait," said Kim. "He said if you hit a putt and it goes a foot past the hole, come Thursday that will easily be two."
In response to that advice, Kim closed the day by practicing downhill putts.
After expecting to play a practice round with K.J. Choi Tuesday or Wednesday, that date has been moved up as Kim will practice with Choi Sunday at 1:30 p.m. Kim is still expected to play a practice round on Monday with Zach Johnson -- the 2007 Masters champion.
Just Missing Tiger
As soon as Kim was done playing the back nine, he headed to the range, where a few of the other amateurs asked if he ran into Tiger Woods. Woods had just teed off the first hole by himself.
Kim said he dropped his head and said no.
"I was just so close," he said. "I was right there, but I am sure I will have other opportunities."
Kim is hoping to meet Woods sometime during the week.