April 4, 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.
The Views Really Did Change
Yesterday, K.J. Choi told Kim the course would look completely different with all the fans attending the Monday open practice.
Kim thought of that advice while he and his parents were following a security escort through a few areas because of the thousands of patrons.
"It was so different today," said Kim. "The driving range, the putting green and the fairways between No. 1 and No. 10 were just packed with fans. It definitely brought a different energy."
Speaking of energy, Kim got his wish of playing in front of a lot of fans when he played nine holes with friend and former Masters champion Zach Johnson. Kim said he did not know what to expect when he first teed off in front of so many people.
He was pleasantly surprised.
"To tell you the truth, I was nowhere near as nervous as I thought I would be," said Kim of his first tee shot. "I striped it down the middle and actually played the first four holes really well. Zach brings a big crowd with him, so it was nice to get that part out of the way."
Kim did have a bad shot on the fifth hole and heard some "opinions" from the gallery.
"I asked Zach, 'How do you tune stuff like that out?'" said Kim. "He said sometimes you can't, but you just have to put it out of your mind and move on to your next shot. Just concentrate on that next shot."
Anyone Know a Shortcut?
Kim said getting to the course Monday was next to impossible with all the fans heading to the open practice.
"In a word it was crazy," said Kim. "There are only two ways in and everyone wants to park close. Thankfully, I saw some other pros take a shortcut down the median. I just followed their lead."
Kim is going to adjust his schedule on Tuesday to make sure he can get there early and avoid the traffic.
The Maize and Blue Nation
Kim was overwhelmed with the number of "Go Blues" he heard in Augusta on Monday. He said he must have heard it more than a thousand times during his practice round.
"It just makes me so proud to be able to represent this university," said Kim. "There were Maize and Blue shirts and hats following me today. It is just too amazing to see how far the reach of our fans goes."
Soaking It Up
For the fourth straight day, Kim talked to as many professional players as he could while on the practice range. Monday's list included two-time Masters champions (1985, '95) Ben Crenshaw, Dustin Johnson and Nick Watney.
"It is just so surreal to be on a driving range and hitting balls with some of the game's top players," said Kim. "I am just trying to learn as much as I can from them -- no matter how little the advice is."
Got a Pen?
Kim said he must have signed more than one hundred autographs today, something he is not really used to -- especially being an amateur.
"There is a fenced off area for little kids to get autographs by the driving range," said Kim. "It is crazy to hear them say, 'Sir? Sir, can you sign this.' I cannot imagine what Phil Mickelson and Tiger have to go through. For me, I just took it all in."
Kim added he keeps his autograph pretty simple.
"It's really just a big 'L' and a big 'K,' he said with a laugh. "There really isn't much to my name anyway."
Seeing an Old Friend
Kim saw former teammate Nick Pumford on the eighth hole of Monday's practice round. Pumford and his Georgia State team were given tickets following their participation in the Augusta State Invitational. Pumford, who serves as an assistant coach under Joe Inman, played at Michigan from 2006-09. Pumford and Kim helped the Wolverines make a semifinal appearance in the 2009 NCAA Finals.
The First for the Coach
Michigan coach Andrew Sapp has made the journey to Augusta and assistant coach Chris Whitten is expected to join him on Wednesday. This is Sapp's first trip to the Masters, having seen only the PGA Championship and the U.S. Open in person.
Two in the Field
A quick Masters tidbit -- U-M coach Andrew Sapp has two former players in the field -- Kim and former North Carolina player Mark Wilson, who has already won twice this year on the PGA Tour, at the Sony Open in Hawaii and the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Making the Trek to Augusta
In addition to his family and friends, several of Kim's former teammates will be in attendance over the course of the week. Michael Slovitt, Ross Millman and Billy McKay are expected to be on hand, while former Wolverine Andy Matthews will visit on Wednesday.