U.S. WOMEN'S OPEN
Kim joins Wie for Open’s final day
NEWPORT, R.I. » Kimberly Kim seems to have no idea how big this tournament is, and how significant it is that she's still actually playing in it today.
Earth to Kimberly: This is the U.S. Women's Open, an LPGA major. Why are you having so much fun? Why are you still here?
Did you come in thinking you'd make the cut?
"No, I was unsure," she said. "I just wanted to do my best."
Young Soon Kim doesn't think his 14-year-old daughter is in awe of the situation.
"Not really. She's just happy with the free ice cream," he said. "I think she likes signing autographs."
She is the youngest player to survive the cut at the U.S. Women's Open since Michelle Wie managed it three years ago as a 13-year-old. After shooting an even-par 71 yesterday, Kim is at 6 over for the tournament. She finished the second round tied for 36th (third among amateurs). The 119 players she was ahead of at the midpoint of the third LPGA major of the year includes Karrie Webb, Ai Miyazato and Morgan Pressel.
She's just a 14-year-old kid who happens to be very good at golf, and realizes it is a game, meant to be enjoyed.
And for a while yesterday, it was very, very enjoyable for Kim. Through 11 holes, she was 4 under for the day and 2 over for the tourney, threatening to burst onto the leaderboard.
"I was real happy. Then I doubled," Kim said, with her trademark giggle.
Between holes 2 and 3 is where potentially good rounds go to die at Newport Country Club. The easiest and hardest par 4s on the course are adjoining.
Kim birdied No. 2 and double-bogeyed No. 3 in each of the first two rounds. Both times a logjam delaying her tee shot on No. 3 didn't help. The 6 included two trips to bunkers, but also a nice out to within a foot of the cup.
"But that hole rattled her cage a little bit," caddie/coach Matt Hall said, and Kim bogeyed the next hole, too.
She regrouped and brought it home with four pars and one bogey over the last five holes.
The round went 5 hours and 38 minutes for Kim, who was playing in one of the last two groups. The Big Island girl, who now lives in Arizona, said a 35-minute wait to tee off on the last hole didn't bother her.
Even with the evening chill coming on? Even with making the cut on the line without having a way of knowing if she were on the bubble or not?
"No, it was good to have a break," she said.
She and Hall spent some of the downtime talking about golf and a lot of it joking around.
"Matt tells me where to aim," she said.
They met five years ago at a junior golf clinic in Hilo.
"She was one of the rugrats," said Hall, who is the head pro at Turtle Bay.
Kimberly's friend via Hall, professional Christina Kim, didn't make the cut. A pair of her shoes did, though. Christina lent them to Kimberly when Kimberly's gear didn't arrive on time. Kimberly's still wearing them, even though they're a size small for her.
"She's very superstitious," Hall said.
With that being the case, Kimberly might have her dad continue to book early flights out of tournaments. Young Soon scheduled an early departure from Pueblo, Colo., last week, and Kimberly made it to the final of the Publinx match-play championship.
He booked a flight out of Providence headed back to Colorado (where Kimberly will play in the USJGA Tournament of Champions next week) for 5 p.m. today. Kimberly will still be playing at that time, or at least standing around waiting to play.
Kaneko, Kono improve: The two other amateurs from Hawaii did not make the cut.
Ayaka Kaneko, a Sacred Hearts student, shot 78 yesterday. Combined with her 80 in the first round, Kaneko finished the tournament at 16 over and tied for 134th.
"I learned I always have to hit straight on this type of course," Kaneko said.
She birdied the par-3 No. 5 hole, hitting a 3-iron to within 5 feet.
"It was a tricky putt, hard to read the speed," she said. "The rough is very difficult."
Kaneko plays next at the Junior World Golf Championships beginning July 11 in San Diego.
Punahou student Stephanie Kono shot 78 yesterday, much better than her 82 of Friday. She finished 18 over and in 140th place.
Kono also managed a birdie yesterday, on the 440-yard par-4 No. 8 when she sank a 25-foot putt.
"I finally made a putt," she said. "I just wanted to come out today and take each shot one at a time and have fun."
Kono joins Kim at the USJGA Tournament of Champions next week.