Christina Kim has been through the wringer recently on the LPGA, coming off five straight missed cuts. But on Day 1 of the Pelican Women's Championship, she took advantage of an opportunity.
On a sponsor's invite to the LPGA's penultimate event, the 37-year-old Californian shot her best round (65) since October 2020, placing her T-3 alongside a decorated group that includes world No. 1 Nelly Korda, Lexi Thompson, Jennifer Kupcho, Danielle Kang and Nasa Hataoka.
Kim's best finish this year was when she tied for 17th in April. She's currently 98th in the Race to the CME Globe points list and Pelican is the last chance to improve her priority ranking for next season.
She almost didn't make it. Kim missed the Monday qualifier by one, but found out on a radio show that she'd have a second chance, courtesy the exemption. She responded the way you might expect Kim to respond.
"Let's see, there was a lot of jumping. I was rolling around in the grass, sort of like a dog that just gets a nice warm patch of grass and just lulls around in it," she said.
Kim has been open in the past about her mental health struggles and has also faced adversity on the course since her rookie year in 2003, like when she lost her tour card at 28 years old. But she feels her hardships have prepared her for this circumstance.
"I'm upbeat because I have been through a lot of adversity in my life in the past," she said. "It comes with experience. I couldn't expect anyone else to have this sort of delusional positive mindset if they have never delved into those deep trenches of human emotion."
After a positive first round, Kim isn't getting ahead of herself.
"[Staying in the moment has] been a huge thing for me these last few years, really," she said. "I'm very fortunate that the pandemic really has allowed me to spend time on myself, focus on myself, and learn to truly love myself more than I had before."
But whether Kim gives an improbable run the next three days or it ends up being her 2021 swan song, the three-time LPGA winner and Solheim Cupper is at peace and ready for the next test.
"You only get one shot at life, and I have been through a lot in my life and have been on the other end of it where I've wallowed in my own misery and ultimately got in my own way," she said. "So if this ends up being the last tournament of my season, then great. I may as well enjoy it, and instead of thinking of a mis-hit shot, I'm now just allowing myself to have a new opportunity to have a sick up and down."