April 11, 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.
Letting it Sink in
After missing the cut, Lion Kim went back to Augusta National on Saturday to practice and to wish K.J. Choi, who he played three practice rounds with, luck.
"I just wanted to go back out to the range, get in some practice and really just watch how these guys prepared for the third round," said Kim. "Also, I wanted to wish K.J. luck. He has been one of my idols growing up. To get some practice rounds in with him and a chance to really get to know him a little better was great. I learned a lot from him."
The one thing Kim did not do was go back out onto the course. He just stayed on the range and in the player's clubhouse talking with players to keep the learning going for as long as it could.
"I felt coming in to this week that I wanted and could make the cut and play during the weekend," said Kim. "I fell just a little short, but I learned so much. I gained quite an experience. I will get better from what I learned.
"It's a bittersweet feeling, but my attitude leaving the Masters is I know that I have the capabilities to play with these guys. If I clean up every aspect of my game, I will start competing with them. I know I will be back here some day."
After packing their things and leaving the rental home, Kim and his family headed to Augusta National one more time to have lunch and say their goodbyes.
"We had a chance for another wonderful lunch, and thanked and said good bye to people before we left," said Kim. "This was an experience that has taught me so much, and we had so many people to thank. Plus, I told them I would be back some day."
The one item Kim had a hard time with was saying goodbye to his Mercedes S400 courtesy car.
"It was tough," chuckled Kim. "I had a lot of fun driving around in that car. There is always next time."
Taking Away More Than He Thought
Kim opened the tournament with a 76 and followed with an even-par 72 to just miss the cut by three shots. He knows he could have played better but didn't walk away empty handed.
"I gained a lot of confidence with my game and a lot of confidence competing with the players in this field," said Kim. "I felt like I could compete with them. I truly believe I have what it takes to be out there. My skills, my attitude and my dedication towards the game are what well help me make it. If I just keep doing what I am doing, I think I will be out there very, very soon."
Despite everyone's constant questions of if he was nervous, Kim knew going into the week, he was more excited and ready to compete on this stage.
"I felt like I did fit in competing with those guys," said Kim. "I wasn't nervous at all. I was just more excited than anything else. I felt like I belonged out there. I was comfortable with myself. I knew heading into this week I was confident with my game and took upon myself to go out there and be myself and let my game show them what I can do."
Though he did qualify for the Masters Tournament, one aspect of his game Kim has continually had to defend is his distance off the tee.
Competing at the highest level this past week only reiterated to Kim that power isn't everything.
"Obviously, it doesn't hurt to get a few extra yards off the tee, but at the end of the day, in order to win golf tournaments; you have to have the short game. You have to make putts going down the stretch. I just didn't make enough putts on the back nine on Friday afternoon.
"If I would have done that I would have made the cut in my opinion. I had plenty of good shots, but I couldn't capitalize on any of my birdie opportunities. It just shows you it doesn't matter how hard you hit it, it really matters how you make the putts you need to make. "
Taking Time to Digress
Kim has elected to skip the Wolverines' final regular-season event this weekend at the Illini Spring Classic. Instead, he is going to get back to Ann Arbor, decompress from the last month and -- most importantly -- hit the books.
"First and foremost, I have schoolwork to make up," said Kim. "Second, I just felt it would be tough to go right from the Masters, come back and go right back out to the Illinois event. I told coach (Sapp) I wanted to take the week off, get back relax and focus on school. Really get back to a normal mode of life and he was more than supportive of me doing that. I just want to have my mind as refreshed as it can be heading into the Big Ten Championships and NCAA Regional."
Breaking Down Kim's Stats
Par 3 Event
Shot even-par 27, tying for 18th
Playing partners: Bubba Watson and Aaron Baddeley
Shot four-over 148 (76-72), tying for 64th -- missed cut by three strokes
Closed with a four-over 76
Driving Distance: 257.50
Driving Accuracy: 12 of 14 (85.71%)
Greens in Regulation: 8 of 18 (44.44%)
Total Putts: 28 (1.56 average)
Closed with a even-par 72
Driving Distance: 254.00
Driving Accuracy: 12 of 14 (85.71%)
Greens in Regulation: 12 of 18 (66.67%)
Total Putts: 29 (1.61 average)