April 8, 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 2 Interview with Lion Kim Audio
Round 2 Interview with Andrew Sapp Audio
The Waiting Game
With a four-over 148 through 36 holes, Kim will now play the waiting game to see if he advances to the weekend. Kim will have to be among the low 44 players, plus ties or within 10 strokes of the lead to advance to weekend play. There are 99 total players in the field.
The Front Side
Coming out for the second round paired again with Davis Love III and Jose Maria Olazabal, Kim looked focused as he parred the opening hole. After his tee shot on No. 2, he clipped a tree and dropped to the fairway nearly 80 yards behind his playing partners. Kim drew his approach right to left to the mouth of the par-five second hole. Striking his wedge shot to about six inches, he birdied with a tap-in putt to cheers from the crowd.
Playing steady through the middle of the front nine, Kim said he had his first bad shot on No. 7 as he was "in-between" clubs and pushed the shot into the right greenside bunker. Successfully getting out of the bunker, Kim's par putt narrowly missed as he drew even with a bogey. However, Kim got the stroke back on No. 8 with his second birdie of the front side.
After a strong drive and perfect second shot, Kim wedged his approach just over the pin as it rolled 15 feet past the pin. The distance was not a factor as Kim drained the putt to go back under par. He closed the front side with a chip and great par-saving putt on the ninth hole.
The Back Side
Determined to learn from the mistakes on the back nine made yesterday (Thursday, April 7), Kim stroked his approach on No. 10 to about 15 feet and ran it up just short as he tapped in for par. Entering Amen Corner, Kim reached No. 11 in two but landed his second shot back left with the pin in the front. After just missing his 35-plus foot bending putt, Kim dropped in the par-saving putt and fist pumped his way to the 12th tee box.
With the pin back right on the par-three 12th, Kim landed his tee shot in the middle of the green. With a 20-plus foot putt, he narrowly missed a birdie as it stopped less than a foot away. Kim just missed another birdie on the par-five 13th after his stellar approach landed in great position for a birdie opportunity. Stroking the seven-footer, the ball stopped on the edge of the cup, as Kim waited to see if it would drop. He tapped in for par.
Kim added par after par on holes 14 through 17 and was one under heading into 18. After a great drive on the closing hole, his approach hit the green and rolled just off the back side. Kim attempted to bend the putt, but the green speeds took it right at the apex and pushed it back off the green. Using his putter again, Kim's par attempt just missed as he closed with a bogey and an even-par round of 72.
Thoughts from the Amateur
The Meaning of this Week
As he walked off the green disappointed from a closing bogey, Kim could only think of how special this week has meant to him.
"It was amazing," Kim said of playing in the Masters. "Just to walk 36 holes with Davis Love III and Jose Maria Olazabal and competing as an amateur doesn't get any better. Those two are clearly some of the best players in the game and it was fun to play alongside them.
"Obviously, I scored better than I did yesterday, but I am disappointed with the finish. Yesterday was disappointing because I had way too many bogeys, usually I am pretty consistent. Overall it was a great week, I cannot complain about anything this week."
Learning was the emphasis for Kim this week, but just how much was he able to take in?
"Everything," said Kim. "The way these pros interact with fans, the way they prepare for each round, their demeanor on the golf course, their attitude on the golf course. You can just learn so much and I think I did."
Collegiate players rarely get a chance at the pros, let alone the Masters. Reflecting on the week, Kim was truly humbled by the experience and happy it came when it did.
"Personally, it meant everything. I learned so much about myself. I learned that my game is good enough to compete out there. I just need to clean up every aspect of my game. What I am truly lacking compared to these guys, in my opinion, is experience. If I played in these type of tournaments and on these type of courses week in and week out, I can definitely see myself competing on the next level."
As for the Michigan golf program?
"It's truly special," said Kim. "I think I heard 'Go Blue' about 10,000 times this week. It's truly amazing. It's a special for our golf program. It's a special week for our university."
Final Thoughts from Davis Love III
Kim closed with a two-day 148 (76-72) while playing partners Jose Maria Olazabal posted a 150 (73-77) and Davis Love III carded a 152 (75-77).
Love was impressed with Kim after 36 holes.
"He did good," said Love. "He made some nice putts today that kept him in it. I don't know what the cuts going to be, but he was kind of grinding it out there. He did real well for his first Masters; he played real nice and hung in there real good."
Love noted yesterday that experience would help Kim move toward a professional career, particularly experience at Augusta National.
Case in point was Kim's bending putt attempt on the 18th hole.
"He knew what he was doing," said Love. "He just hadn't done it enough. Like us, we know the goofy ones sometimes; you're kind of used to them. He had the right idea, but that's not what you want to finish your day off when you need a par. He hit a good shot in there; it's just hard to get it close to that pin."
One Proud Coach
Wolverine fans were beaming that Kim played so well at the Masters, none more than his coach Andrew Sapp.
"It's one thing to make a cut in a PGA Tour event. It's another thing to play in the Masters -- where you are playing with the best players in the world," said Sapp. "For him to play against two Hall of Fame golfers and beat both of them, just, hopefully, proves to him that he can play on this level. He still has a lot of work to do and a lot of it is gaining more and more experience at this level. But I am convinced he can make it on the PGA Tour after this week."
Where Did Finish Among the American Amateurs
Kim (76-72) equaled Stanford and U.S. Amateur runner-up David Chung (72-76) for the top American Amateur spot with a 148 total, while Oklahoma State's and U.S. Amateur champion Peter Uihlein closed at 149 (72-77) and U.S. Mid-Am champion Nathan Smith posted a 152 (75-77).
Thoughts from the Looper
After the second round, Kim shook hands with his local caddie Louis Laurence, who smiled, thanked him for a wonderful time and asked when he should start getting ready for the weekend. All Kim could do was smile.
"He is a great kid," said Laurence. "He is determined and wholesome. It was a lot of fun. This was the first time I had anyone shoot even par at the Masters. I hope he makes the cut."
After spending the week with Kim, Laurence said his short game was one of the best he had ever seen.
"He is a wizard around the greens," said Laurence. "He obviously learned a lot. He read most of his putts. He asked me a few times about some of the greens, but he did a lot on his own."
As far as what Kim needs to do to reach the professional tour, Laurence said hitting his driver farther would definitely be a benefit.
"It's not that he doesn't hit it good, it just needs to go farther," said Laurence. "That can come with time. He hits his irons and rescue clubs as good as anyone. If all he had to do was hit his irons, he would be close to the top. And again, his short game, whew, he is good. I think he has a great opportunity to play professionally."
Let's Have Ourselves a Snack
Going to a major sporting event can cost you plenty at the concession stand. Not at the Masters. With nothing more than $2.50, a patron can get a sandwich for $1.50, a soda or water for $1.50, two moon pies for $1.00 and call it a day. With turkey, ham and cheese, club sandwiches and specialty pimento cheese or egg salad sandwiches available, anyone can have a great lunch for less than six bucks.
With more than 500 employees from CBS, 15-17 television production trucks and nearly 75 cameras around Augusta National, a CBS worker commented the coverage of the Masters nearly mirrors that of the Olympic Games.