by Brad Ziemer
It has already been an unforgettable summer for Lauren Kim and it’s far from over. “It just keeps on getting better,” the 18-year-old Surrey resident said after winning the 109th playing of the Canadian Women’s Amateur Championship, held Aug. 1-4 at Ashburn Golf Club in Halifax, N.S.
After a brief pit stop at home, Kim heads to Los Angeles where she will play in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship, which goes Aug. 7-13 at Bel Air Country Club.
Her win in Halifax earned Kim exemptions into both the U.S. Women’s Amateur and the CPKC Women’s Open, although she only needed one of them. Kim had already qualified for the U.S. Women’s Amateur.
Last year, Kim was named the PNGA Junior Girls’ Player of the Year.
She is more than a little excited to now have a spot in CPKC Women’s Open, an LPGA Tour event that goes Aug. 24-27 at Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club in Vancouver. “I can’t imagine what that is going to feel like to play at home” Kim said in a telephone interview. “The support I will get from family and friends is going to be unreal. It will be fun.”
Her final round in Halifax was fun, but it was also full of stress. Kim began the day in solo second, two shots behind Ontario’s Brooke Rivers, a fellow national amateur team member who had the tournament lead the first three days. Kim and her dad, Kevin, who caddied for her in Halifax, decided to treat the final round like it was match play.
“My dad and I are both really competitive and we love a good match play match,” Kim said. “We were kind of heading into today with a match play kind of mindset. And it’s hard to maintain a lead for three days, everyone knows that. We knew she was going to break down a little bit.”
Rivers did have a shaky front nine and Kim had turned that two-shot deficit into a three-shot lead at the turn. She went up by four with a birdie on the par 4 11th hole. Then things got interesting. “That was a real roller-coaster,” Kim said of the back nine. “She started to make some putts for birdies and I was scrambling for pars on the home stretch. The biggest thing was to stay calm and just keep thinking about the shot that was ahead of me and not the final result.”
Rivers had clawed back to within one shot with a birdie on the par 15th hole. Both players double-bogeyed the par 3 16th and Kim made solid pars on the final two holes to win by one shot with a 72-hole total of eight-under par. Kim closed the tournament with a one-under 71.
She said the enormity of her win — a national title — had not quite yet sunk in. “It’s big,” she said. “I hadn’t won in a while and had been so close so many times and so it is such a nice feeling. It shows that with all the hard work my game has improved a lot and more success is on the way.”
Kim becomes the first British Columbian to win the Canadian Women’s Amateur since Jessica Potter of Coquitlam captured the title in 2006. Like Kim, Potter won that title in Atlantic Canada at Moncton Golf Club in New Brunswick.
Kim’s Canadian Amateur win follows a July during which she competed in her second U.S. Women’s Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links. She then made it through to the quarter-finals of the U.S. Girls Junior Championship in Colorado Springs, where she lost on the 22nd hole to eventual champion Kiara Romero of the United States.
Earning a spot in the Shaughnessy field means Kim will miss her first week of classes at the University of Texas, where she is about to begin her freshman year. “I was talking with my coach earlier and he was like come to orientation, move in and it’s fine if you miss the first week, it’s only the first week and not much happens,” Kim said.
Her Texas coach, Ryan Murphy, was following Kim’s final round on-line and said her win just reinforced what he already knew and why he recruited her. “Her record initially is what got our attention and it’s what got everybody’s attention as far as college golf coaches go,” Murphy said in an interview.
“She had a really strong record as a junior and she had wins on that record. That’s what got my attention. I want a team full of winners and that’s what she is. It wasn’t just one win here or there. She won at every level, every age division she has ever been in.
“When she would come down here to the United States to play, whether it was AJGA or USGA events, she played well virtually every time. So that’s what got my attention initially and once I met her along with her dad when they came and visited, I really liked both of them — their personality, how they go about things. They are just really sensible people. It seemed like such a good fit for us.”
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(This article first appeared on the British Columbia Golf website. Used by permission.)