Kim Wins U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship

July 17, 2010

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- After surviving a seven-plus hour weather delay, University of Michigan men's golf junior Lion Kim (Lake Mary, Fla./Lake Mary Prep) used a 6-and-5 championship match-play win over David McDaniel today (Saturday, July 17) to win the 85th U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship at Bryan Park's Champions Course.

By winning the USAPL, Kim likely earned an invitation to compete next April in The Masters at Augusta (Ga.) National Golf Club. Kim will also receive a gold medal, custody of the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship Trophy for one year, a three-year exemption through local qualifying for the U.S. Open and a two-year full exemption into the U.S. Amateur (2010 and 2011).

After battling over the last five days to get into the match play championship, Kim got off to a slow start in the championship match, survived the seven-hour rain delay and caught fire on the back nine to pull away and go on to win the 2010 title.

After dropping the opening hole to McDaniel, Kim squared the match on the second hole and took the lead on the fourth hole with a birdie. Kim and McDaniel parred the remaining holes on the front nine and made the turn with Kim leading, 1-up. Winning the 10th hole, Kim went up two before the storms dropped nearly 1.5 inches of rain on the course over the next seven hours.

Returning to the course at 4:51 p.m., Kim extended his lead by winning the first two holes and never looked back. Returning to the front side for the second 18, Kim won the first two holes to push his lead the 6-up through 20 holes. Another win on the sixth hole pushed Kim's lead to 7-up with 12 holes to play.

The two exchanged pars over the next six out of seven holes as Kim held on for the 6-and-5 win and the USAPL title.

The U.S. Amateur Public Links, established in 1922 for bona fide public-course players, is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

85th U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship
Bryan Park's Champions Course (Greensboro, N.C.)
July 12-17, 2010

• Tied for 21st in stroke play, 143 (73-70) to earn the No. 21 seed for match play [ Stroke Play ]
• First Round, defeated No. 44 Ross Canavan, 6-and-5 [ Match ]
• Second Round, defeated No. 12 Joon Heui Lee, 1-up [ Match ]
• Third Round, defeated No. 37 Chase Wright, 2-and-1 [ Match ]
• Quarterfinal, defeated No. 20 Chris Williams, 1-up [ Match ]
• Semifinal, defeated No. 25 Kevin Phelan, 1-up [ Match / Article ]
• Championship, defeated No. 39 David McDaniel, 6-and-5 [ Match ]

Pre-Championship Match Recaps
• Stroke Play and First Round: Using rounds of 73 and 70 for a 143 total, Kim tied for 21st with two other players in stroke play and advanced to match play as the No. 21 seed. In his opening round, Kim squared off against Ross Canavan, a senior at Skidmore College. Getting off to an early lead, building a 4-up lead through five holes, Kim never looked back for the 6-and-5 victory.

• Second Round: Kim battled former Western New Mexico golfer Joon Heui Lee in the second round. Kim fell down two through the first three holes before winning two of the next three to square the match. Kim took his first lead of the match, birdieing the par-five 11th hole, but Lee answered with a birdie on the par-three 14th to keep it even. Kim then birdied the par-five 15th to regain the lead and extended it to 2-up by winning the 16th. Despite Lee taking the 17th hole, Kim held on for the 1-up victory.

• Third Round: Familiar faces played in the third round as Kim took on Indiana's Chase Wright for a chance to advance to the round of 16. After getting off to a quick 2-up lead through two holes, Kim saw the lead slip away as Wright squared the match, winning the fifth and sixth holes. The Big Ten foes battle was all square with three holes remaining. With a birdie on the par-four 16th, Kim struck first down the stretch to take a 1-up lead. A second birdie for Kim combined with a Wright bogey on the 17th closed out the match for Kim, 2-and-1, and putting him into the quarterfinal.

• Quarterfinal: The quarterfinal saw Kim face Chris Williams, a sophomore from Washington. Kim got off to another fast start, going 3-up through four holes. Kim maintained his lead throughout the middles stretch of holes and was 3-up through 13 holes, before Williams won three of the next four holes to square the match. Kim responded, parring the 17th hole, while Williams missed his putt and bogeyed, giving Kim the 1-up lead. Both players closed with pars on the 18th and Kim hung on to advance to the semifinal with a 1-up victory.

• Semifinal: In the semifinal against Kevin Phelan, a sophomore at North Florida, Kim struck first, winning the second hole as he carried a 1-up lead through six holes. A Phelan birdie on the seventh hole squared the match and he used that momentum to win the next two holes and build a 2-up lead through 12. However, Kim started a comeback to even the match, winning the 13th on a par and the 15th with an eagle. A par on the 16th from Kim and bogey by Phelan gave Kim the lead back with two holes remaining. Despite Phelan hitting tight approach shots at Nos. 17 and 18, Kim rolled in putts from 20 and 10 feet, respectively, to keep the lead and win the match, 1-up, and advance to the championship match against David McDaniel. By playing his way into the finals, Kim received an exemption to the 2010 U.S. Amateur Championship, being held August 23-29 at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash., which is also hosting the 2015 U.S. Open.


U-M Junior Lion Kim
Opening Statement ... "Obviously, this whole match really it was a grind. David was playing great all day all week really. So coming down the stretch, I just knew if I won at least two more holes, I would take care of it. But David kept plugging along. He won a hole on 12. You know, he gained a little momentum there. But, you know, I just kept telling myself, stay positive and execute the shot that you have envisioned and you may have a chance of winning this thing.

On the players decision to keep playing and thought process ... "To be honest, the game plan, obviously, I didn't want to come back the following day just to play I mean, it could end on the first hole if I just par or if I just tie David on that hole. I wasn't feeling great about doing that. I just knew that, you know, actually No. 13 has been actually a bad hole for me. I've bogeyed it I think six times, including stroke play. That hole hasn't been nice to me. The game plan was, if I lost that hole, I was going to tell David that we're not going to play anymore. I just had this positive thought that, you know, my match could end there. Although 13 has been my worst hole out here, I just had a funny feeling that for some reason 13 was going to be nice to me towards the end. "

On the winning putt ... "I think it was a six-footer down the hill. Only thing I could see was my ball and the cup. My putter is even black. I couldn't even see my putter. It's funny, because usually obviously when we read putts, we're looking from the other side, from the side and everything when you're reading putts. This time, obviously since we couldn't see anything, I just had to feel it with my feet just to see what kind of slope I was in. My feeling was this is going to be a hard left to right putt. Since it's a downhill putt and it's a do or die situation whether I make it or not, I just told myself, Give it a good stroke and just hope that it just goes in the back of the cup, and it did.

On how the putting greens fit his game so well ... "You know what, I don't know. I mean, the first day I was here, the first thing I did, I went on the putting green first. That's usually my routine is to putt first. Seriously, it was a funny feeling. I just knew as soon as I hit a couple putts, I turned around and told my mom, I said, Look, this is probably the best greens for me because it's not too fast, but at the same time it's not too slow. So I could be really aggressive with my putts if I really just trust my line. I guess, I don't know, from start to finish, I just knew this is the type of putting green that I love. I mean, the speed is perfect. Even when I'm hitting 4-iron or 5-iron, I just have a good thought that it's not going to roll off because it's so fast. I don't know. This whole week, just the whole golf course really fit my game perfectly."

On what he was thinking about going back out on the 13th after the suspension of play ... "Yeah, I mean, you know, I was really tired mentally, but I just kept telling myself, You know what, you've come this far. To give up ... I wasn't going to give up. I told myself, you know, It's too late to give up, you've come too far, you have to give everything you have. If you're going to go down, go down fighting. You know, I don't know. I guess my faith with God and just having the positive thought in my head was really a huge key for me this week.

On what it means to be a USGA champion ... "It's an amazing feeling. You know, this is definitely obviously the biggest golfing moment for me, but at the same time it's very humbling, to tell you the truth, because looking at the past champions here, to see my name go up amongst these past champions, it's an honor really. But, you know, I'm going to take this experience and I've got to get better. I've got to have bigger goals and reach even harder to reach my full potential."

On in his acceptance speech he talked about how it's been seven years since he won his last tournament ... "You know, they say the first win is the hardest. But obviously for me, the second win was the hardest 'cause it's been a while. You know, I've played some phenomenal golf in between, though. I'm not saying I've struggled for seven years. I've come so close. I can't tell you how many top five or second place finishes I've had many, many. Again, I guess that's what kept me relaxed coming into today was because I wasn't expecting that I need to win. I just told myself, Just go with your game plan and see what happens. I feel very lucky to come out on top.

On if he thought there was a moment during the round that you felt like you had the win in the bag ... "Well, to be honest with you, on 10, you know, I thought I had a birdie putt about like 10 feet. I hit the flag. I felt like if it didn't hit the flag, it would have been like a foot. I guess, you know, it was an unlucky break, I guess. It went sideways 10 feet. I thought to myself, If I make that putt, then I'll probably seal the deal. But I missed it. Luckily, you know, David and I tied on that hole. We went to the 11th hole, which is a par 5. That hole has actually been the best hole for me. I think I've birdied it almost every single time except for today. But, you know, again, I have to go back with keep having these positive thoughts in my head and never had a bad mindset."

On what's it going to be like, come December, when he receives a letter with Augusta National letterhead ... "It's a dream come true. Obviously it's every little kid's dream to play in the Masters one day. But at the same time I realize it's an opportunity that a lot of people don't get to have. I feel very lucky to get this opportunity, to play in the Masters. Again, it's very humbling. I'm going to work hard. I can tell you this right now: once I go back, I'm probably going to work twice as hard. My two coaches, I know if you talk to my two coaches at Michigan, they'll say, He's probably the hardest worker on our golf team. But, trust me, I'm going to work even harder so I can reach my full potential and hopefully one day be on the PGA TOUR and become a major champion."

On what it is going to be like going back to Michigan ..."I don't know. I mean, obviously I don't really know my history for our program that well. But I don't really know anybody who played for Michigan that played in the Masters. But either way it's an honor. To be able to represent my school in any way, we're taught at Michigan that you should always think it's an honor to represent the University of Michigan, and it truly is. Yeah, back in school I'm sure a lot of my friends and even professors are probably going to realize that I'll be playing in the Masters and probably miss a full week of class. But, you know, yeah, I'm sure they're not going to care that I miss classes for the Masters.

On what he thinks about his dad will say about him winning the first tournament he didn't attend ..."Last night my dad, he cried last night saying like, Lion, you're in the finals. I said, Dad, it's not over yet. But he said, For you to get this far, because, again, what I said out there in my presentation, you know, it's been a tough road golf wise for me and my dad because we've had our share of ups and downs. I would disagree with him in many ways when it comes to him trying to teach me in this game. But at the same time he knows me the best. I truly believe he knows me better than I do myself, if that makes any sense. He knows me so well. He even knows what I'm thinking, what I'm going through right now. I don't even have to tell him; he can just read my mind for some reason. He's an amazing dad. You know, obviously, again, he and I will have our disagreements at times, but at the bottom of my heart I know that he is the best dad for me. I mean, he's the reason why I'm here, because of the love and the support that he has given me.

On his thoughts of being a tough match-player and his thoughts on his opponent ... "David is a tough competitor. Obviously even when we can't see the holes, the last two holes, he never gave up. He kept fighting. I mean, he kept fighting. That shows you how great of a competitor he is. Yeah, like I said before, I do believe I'm a good match play player. But I felt like before this week I've always been unlucky because when I do play well, it always seemed like my competitor would play even better. But this week, like I said before, my mindset was, Well, if your competitor plays good golf, then you need to play great golf. If your competitor plays great golf, then you need to play phenomenal golf. Whatever they do, you need to answer back. That was my mentality all week when I made it to match play.

On if he has ever played in darkness like the final match turned into ... "Once actually. We played with a golf ball that actually glowed in the dark and things like that. We had a glow stick at the flag pole. Yeah, it was nothing new to me. To be honest, I shot 39 in the dark when I played with my buddies like that. I shot 39. So, yeah, I wasn't too worried."

On where does the nickname 'Lion' come from ... "I get that question a lot. You know, my last name, Kim, is probably by far the most popular last name out of all of South Korea. It's like John Smith or Anderson here. I remember playing in an AJGA golf tournament. There were literally seven Kims on the men's side and six on the women's side. I used to get these questions from volunteers when I would go to a tournament to register, the lady would ask me, Which one of the Kims are you? So right then my dad wanted to name my Lion because, number one, it's very easy to remember. It's very unique. I'm sure my parents got the idea from Tiger Woods. I know for a fact they didn't name me Lion Kim thinking I would be the next Tiger Woods. Trust me, they're smarter than that. So, yeah, I mean, it's the reason. And also they tell me they named me Lion because of my last name. It sounds a lot similar, if you say it quickly, like the cartoon Lion King. It's easy. Trust me, when I go to tournaments, I have people say, Yeah, welcome back, Lion. How can we forget your name? It's pretty cool."

Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423