April 5, 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.
A Ryder Cup Tryout
Kim will be paired with two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal and Davis Love III, winner of the 1997 PGA Championship, for the first two rounds. Known as Group 25, the trio begins with a 12:31 p.m. Thursday (April 7) tee time followed by a 9:02 a.m. start Friday morning (April 8).
"It doesn't get any better than that," said Kim. "It's an unbelievable pairing. A two-time Masters champion and the upcoming U.S. Ryder Cup captain. I am looking forward to it. I've got nothing to lose. I am just going to go out there and play my game and see what happens."
Olazabal, winner of the 1994 and 1999 Masters, is the 2012 European Ryder Cup captain, while Love III will serve as the U.S. captain for the 2012 Ryder Cup, which will be played at the famed Medinah Country Club in suburban Chicago.Another Round with K.J.
Kim opened Tuesday on the range and was not expecting to play until the afternoon, but when K.J. Choi asked him to join him for another nine holes, he couldn't say no.
Lion Kim and K.J. Choi
The duo made their way around the front side, greeting fans and exchanging jokes with each other while concentrating on the greens. Both caddies set up pseudo pin placements, while the duo took aim from all angles.
An interesting note from the practice round was the story that when Kim was 13 years old he had his picture taken with Choi at the Bay Hill Invitational. Now, Kim was playing alongside him at the Masters.
"It's very scary (to see one of his fans now playing alongside of him)," said a laughing Choi. "He even said I was mean to him because I wouldn't sign it for him. I was proud to be able to play with him. He is a very good guy."
Sage Advice from the Bag Man
After selecting Louis Laurence as his caddie, the two have enjoyed a buddy relationship. Laurence, who has caddied twice in the Masters for former tour pro Tommy Aaron (in 2002 and 2003), has more than 24 years of experience at Augusta National and hopes to be able to bring it to Kim.
"I told him he was on a pretty big stage when he won the Public Links, but you have no idea what you are going to encounter," said Laurence. "I told him to put on his blinders and do what he does best: play golf. Don't worry about anything else. If you get distracted for a minute it will last forever."
Laurence continues to be impressed with Kim's game. He believes he has the ability to make the cut, but needs to make sure he carries the right attitude and is aggressive with the mental aspect of his game.
"He has so much talent," said Laurence. "He has just as good of a short game as anybody out here, anybody," said Laurence. "I have been playing golf for 55 years, been an assistant pro for 10 and even played in a few tour events -- man, he's got talent. He just has to let it work."
Kim with Louis Laurence
Swing Doctor in the House
On Tuesday, Kim welcomed his swing coach Brian Mogg, who followed Kim throughout his front-nine practice round before meeting him on the range for a tune-up.
"This week isn't about fixing my swing," said Kim of his Mogg's presence. "He is just giving me a good pep talk and helping me stay positive. We just are staying focused on the little things -- keeping it simple."
"This is obviously the World Series of golf, so it is great for Lion to get this experience," said Mogg. "Lion is not the longest hitter, but his strength is his ability to work the ball and be creative. He has a big, big heart. That is going to be a key for him to do well here. Lion has done everything to put him in a position to play well here. He has played about eight practice rounds, he has a caddie with a lot of local knowledge and he continues to seek advice from other professionals. It should be a fun week for him."
You Have to See It to Believe It
Fans can play Augusta National on the new Tiger Woods PGA Tour video game, but even that cannot give the course its due.
Seeing the course in person is to see all the hidden elements such as changes in elevation and the way the course is not as flat as fans are led to believe.
"This is just truly amazing," said U-M head coach Andrew Sapp, walking the course for the first time. "You look around and it is nowhere near what I expected. I heard all the talk of the hills and how TV makes it look easy and flat, but let me tell you -- this is just a special, special place."
Chipping and Putting is the Key
Tiger Woods said in his Tuesday press conference one of the keys to winning the Masters is making sure your short game is ready and sharp. He said it is important to make sure if you miss, you miss in the right spots in order to make a simple up and down or easy putt.
"I could not agree with him more," said Kim. "You need to make sure when you miss, you keep yourself in position to finish it out. I have always considered my short game as a big strength, so I am confident that will help me this week."
Alone with the Champ
Kim's day began on the practice range alongside amateurs Nathan Smith and Peter Uihlein before K.J. Choi, Luke Donald, Jim Furyk and Bo Van Pelt joined him. Just before he went out with Choi to play the front nine, Kim looked to his side and it was just him and defending champion Phil Mickelson practicing.
Kim and Phil Mickelson
World Wide Press
The Masters receives worldwide coverage, but the press compound at the Augusta National is a site to be seen.
The room is set up like the United Nations. Media from the United States, Spain, Ireland, South Africa, Korea, Japan, Australia, Sweden and South America, virtually have all they need to cover the event from all angles.
A large movie theater leaderboard and two large screens help media track the play of every player, with each individual assigned spot given a small monitor offering stats, player info and live coverage of the event.
Quick Notebook item
Kim will have his brother, Jun, caddie for him during the Par 3 Contest.