'I was very young two years ago and tried to go for everything, now my game is different,' said 21-year-old Korean, who captured the $60,000 Bank of Ann Arbor Futures Golf Classic by shooting a final round 6-under 66 for a total of 209 (-7). 'My mind is so much better. Before I used to get uncomfortable and nervous when I hit a bad shot, now I just say thats golf, it doesnt matter and try and concentrate on the next shot.'
These words come from a player who watched her dream of playing on the LPGA Tour disappear with one birdie putt made by her good friend, Jung Yeon Lee, on the final hole of the last 2001 Futures Tour tournament. The difference in money - a mere $210.
Having learned from the school of hard knocks, Kim finds herself focusing on different things, primarily on her own golf game and not so much the money list or even the leader board. She wants to enjoy her shots. 'I am not thinking of the money list, I want to have fun. I dont want to do what I did two years ago and get caught up on where I am on the list. I am just trying to play.'
And playing is exactly what Kim did on the 6,200-yard Lake Forest Golf Club course. Heading into Sundays final round, Kim was at 1-under, six strokes back of second-round leader Stacy Prammanasudh of Enid, Okla. However, that didnt stop Kim from just playing her own game and having fun. 'I didnt try to win the tournament. In fact, when I teed off I didnt think about winning, I just wanted to hit good tee shots and try to putt well. I cant believe I won. I never focussed on it.'
Kim, playing three groups ahead of Prammanasudh, started fast with five birdies in seven holes. Prammanasudh, who last week was leading going into the final round and lost in a playoff, didnt rest on her lead. She reeled off three birdies in seven holes and made the turn at 10-under. Kim in her new mindset didnt even realize where she stood with the leader.
'Stacy is a really great player with a very strong mind,' continued the two-time Futures Tour winner, who took home the $8,400 first-place check. 'I have learned in the past two years that I need to enjoy my game and stay focussed on it, not the leaders. I do not care what the other players are doing. I have no control of them.'
Slowly and mythically Kim began chiseling away at the leader board. By the time she had reached the 16th tee she was tied with Prammanasudh who doubled bogeyed the 12th hole. Prammanasudh, who admitted earlier in the week that the 12th hole was her least favorite, hit the tree in the middle of the fairway on her second shot and ended up a hole away in the back greenside bunker of No. 8. She took four to get it in the hole and found herself tied with Kim.
'I played well and hit the ball well all day,' said the former University of Tulsa All-American, who finished the day with a 74 and ended up tied for third, two shots from Kim and one shot from Lisa Hall of Stoke-on-Trent, England, who fired a final round 68. 'It was just one unfortunate shot. If you take out my one bad hole, it changes everything.
'Lets not take anything away from Kim, she has played steady every week. Her being No. 1 on the money list and not having won a tournament says something. She shot 66 today, there is no reason that she shouldnt have been in contention.'
Does giving up shots down the stretch rattle Prammanasudh? Absolutely not.
'I am satisfied with the way I am playing,' said the winner of the Futures Tours Frye Chevrolet Classic. 'There could be six more wins for me in the six remaining Futures Tour events.'
But first she will have to get past Kim who has eight top-10 finishes including this win, one second and two third place finishes. The new mature Kim has proven that she is a solid closer. And now that she is enjoying what she is doing she is looking forward to finishing the 2003 season in the top five, securing the LPGA exempt card that alluded her two years ago.
The 18-hole tournament record was broken today by Allie Blomquist of Afton, Minn., who fired a final round 7-under 65. Her seven birdie and no bogey round beat the former record by one shot.