April 7, 2011
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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.
Audio from the Masters
Round 1 Interview with Lion Kim
Round 1 Interview with Andrew Sapp
What a Debut
With a 12:31 p.m. tee time, paired with both 2012 U.S. and European Ryder Cup captains -- Davis Love III and Jose Maria Olazabal -- Kim began his Masters in grand fashion with a birdie.
"It is the best start you could ever ask for from an amateur," said Kim. "It doesn't get any better than that."
After Love III put his drive in the right side bunker and Olazabal was just short on it, Kim striped his drive down the middle to a roaring round of applause and yells of, 'Go Blue.' Kim used a seven iron on his approach to eight feet and then, lining up his putt, drained it to record a birdie as the crowd cheered his effort.
"I wasn't nervous at all; I was more excited," Kim said of walking up to the first tee. "I was looking forward to the round and I was confident. There was no question I was confident coming into this round."
The Front Side
After opening with his birdie on No. 1, Kim knocked his tee shot in the left bunker on the par-three fourth. After his sand wedge went right at the pin and six feet past, his par putt broke right at the end, giving him a six-inch putt for bogey.
Now even, Kim's tee shot on the par-three sixth hole tracked right at the pin, but he flew the green and landed in the short rough. With his wedge, he bounced his ball through the first cut as it rolled just wide of the hole for birdie. He pushed his par putt to the right for his second bogey. After a great drive on the par-five eighth hole, Kim's second shot found the left side trees. His shot out of the pine straw clipped a tree and dropped straight down. He found the green and salvaged a bogey as he was two over going into No. 9.
Bombing his drive down the right side on No. 9, it rolled into the rough. Kim's approached shot came out of the shadows and landed two feet from the pin as the crowd erupted. Draining his putt, Kim recorded a birdie to open and close the front nine with birdies and make the turn at one over.
The Back Side
Making the turn, Kim's approach on No. 10 hit the center of the green but then rolled off the left side into the rough. After his chip just missed, he closed with bogey to go two over. Approaching Amen Corner, Kim's second shot on the 11th found the water. After getting back to the green, he just slipped his bogey putt by the hole as he posted a double to go four over.
With a packed gallery, Kim teed off on the famed par-three 12th and it tracked dead at the pin. As it landed, it just went over the pin and rolled 20 feet past the hole. Two putts later, Kim posted par and seemed to be back on his game as he birdied the par-five 13th after a stellar drive and beautiful hybrid approach shot.
Kim's tee shot hit a branch on the left fairway and dropped directly into pine straw on the 17th. With a terrible lie, his second shot hooked right as he punched out, but he hit a strong chip shot and managed a bogey. Four over with one to play, Kim closed with a solid par to give him a 76, putting him in a tie for 87th with Vijay Singh, Mark Wilson and Mike Weir.
Thoughts from the Amateur
Kim shared his thoughts after the first round.
"Individually, I am not pleased with how I played," said Kim. "I made way too many bogeys out there, but overall it was a great experience and I can't complain. I just didn't get many breaks today, but hopefully I can turn that around tomorrow."
Asked if he was surprised by anything, Kim said after nine practice rounds, he knew where he needed to play in order to score, but, like everyone warned, the greens were a "tad" faster than he had played before.
"The greens, the speed of the greens," said Kim. "It's not surprising because I knew they would be a lot faster than yesterday or the previous eight times I played here."
Thoughts from a Future Hall of Famer
Following the first round with Kim, Davis Love III tried to put himself in Kim's shoes and remember his first time at the Masters.
"I kept reminding myself this is his first time and try to help him along a bit, but he did well," said Love III. "Even me, as a third-year pro, I wasn't as prepared."
During the round, Davis III noticed Kim taking some difficult lines and wanted to help but knew that he had to learn on his own and gain as much experience by himself.
"I think you have to learn your way around the course," said Davis III. "I saw (Kim) do a couple things where I was just like, don't lay up over there. Lay up on the other side of the fairway. You could tell what he was trying to do. He was trying to put it where he put it, and he hit a good shot, but it was at the wrong angle. You just learn that by doing it. You just go, 'oh boy that was dumb,' because those guys hit it over there. I think that experience is worth a few shots, and probably the difference for first timers."
Even without being able to help with his game, Davis III did help by talking with Kim to try and keep him loose during the first round.
"I was just trying to keep him having fun," said Davis III. "He wanted to talk more than me and Jose Maria (Olazabal), so we tried to talk to him a little bit, keep him loose. You just don't want to be the veteran guy that doesn't help out. You want him to be comfortable, help him along. You can't help him with the course, but you can at least make him feel good, make him feel comfortable."
The Second 18
Kim will tee of with Davis Love III and Jose Maria Olazabal tomorrow morning (Friday, April 7) at 9:02 a.m. ESPN will begin its coverage at 3 p.m., while live online coverage of Amen Corner (holes 11-13) as well as holes 15 and 16 can be found on Masters.com.
How to Move to the Weekend
The Masters has a player cut after 36 holes. Kim will have to be among the low 44 players, plus ties or within 10 strokes of the lead advance to weekend play. There are 99 total players in the field.
It has been talked about for months, the special "Maize & Blue Lion" wingtip shoes from FootJoy Kim would wear for the Masters. After originally setting Friday's second round as the unveiling, Kim decided to make the switch and use them for his opening round.
"They were very comfortable," said Kim. "I have actually worn them two or three times before coming out here."
Keeping Track of Two
U-M head coach Andrew Sapp faced double duty during the first round following two of his players -- former North Carolina All-American Mark Wilson and U-M All-American Lion Kim. Wilson, who has two wins on the PGA Tour, played at UNC from 1994-97 and was a two-time All-American and the 1996 Ben Hogan Award recipient.
"It is an awesome feeling to have two former players here, kind of unexplainable really," said Sapp. "I was able to catch a little of Mark's round this morning, but I am here to watch and support Lion and that is where my focus is."
Sapp was an assistant coach at his alma mater UNC from 1994-98 before moving on to Purdue (1999-2002) and then taking over the Michigan program in 2003.
Six Degrees to a UNC Connection
Being a former golfer at North Carolina, U-M head coach Andrew Sapp has a connection to Davis Love III, who was paired with Kim during the first round. Love III played at UNC from 1983-85, while Sapp from 1991-93.
Tweets are Just from the Birds
There is a strict policy of no cell phones, PDAs or any electrical devices from the patrons, media or members at the Masters, so Kim's performance will not be covered via Twitter. If you are found in violation of the policy, you are subject to removal from the event and your tickets could be confiscated. In addition, no photography or videos are allowed by patrons, media or members. Only credentialed photographers are allowed to shoot images of the Masters. In a unique aspect of Augusta National, the course offers phone stations with free long distance calls within the United States.