'Island Queen' S.Y. Kim eyes spot on South Korean Olympic team


Call Sei Young Kim the Island Queen.

The Pure Silk Bahamas Classic defending champion relishes her return to the Ocean Club Golf Course on Paradise Island. She thrives on tracts of land surrounded by water that are too small to be called continents. In fact, she tends to dominate them.

All three of Kim’s victories in her LPGA rookie season came on islands. There was the victory in the Bahamas, then the victory at the Lotte Championship on the Hawaiian island of Oahu and then the triumph at the Blue Bay LPGA on Hainan Island in China.

There’s more, too. Before joining the LPGA and winning Rolex Rookie of the Year honors last year, Kim won five times on the Korean LPGA Tour. She told assembled media Wednesday in the Bahamas that she won all five of those KLPGA titles on courses in island settings.

What’s the deal?

“I just understand the wind and a whole lot of how to use the wind,” Kim said. “I like the wind. I like to play in the wind because I like to play the tough conditions.”

Kim, 23, specifically joined the LPGA to try to bolster her world ranking and earn a spot on the Korean Olympic team for this summer’s games in Rio de Janeiro. She’s No. 7 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, the third highest ranked South Korean behind Inbee Park and So Yeon Ryu. That’s important because the top four South Koreans within the top 15 in the world will qualify for the Olympics. The competition promises to be intense for those Olympic spots. There are currently eight South Koreans among the top 15 battling to make it. Olympic qualifying ends on July 11.

“My spot very close,” Kim said.