Kim Gets Her Title Defence Off To A Solid Start

Surrey Resident Michelle Kim Fired A Three-Under Par 69 To Grab A One-Shot Lead After First Round Of B.C. Women’s Amateur Championship At Beach Grove Golf Club - File Photo

By Brad Ziemer. British Columbia Golf

Michelle Kim seems determined to keep the A.C. Flummerfelt Cup in the family. Two years ago, Michelle’s older sister, Taylor, hoisted that historic trophy as winner of the B.C. Women’s Amateur Championship. Last year, Michelle beat Taylor by one shot to take home the title.

On Tuesday, Michelle Kim served notice she is intent on repeating as champion. The soon-to-be 19-year-old from Surrey fired a three-under 69 at Beach Grove Golf Club in Tsawwassen to grab the first-round lead of the Women’s Amateur.

Kim closed her round nicely, draining a 20-foot birdie putt on the par 3 16th hole and then eagling the par 5 17th. “I finished really strong,” Kim said. “On 17 I holed it from 97 yards with a three-quarters pitching wedge. I hit it well and knew it was close because I heard people clapping. When I got up there, there was no ball, so I figured it must have gone in, right.”

Kim, who just completed her freshman year at the University of Idaho, is trying to follow up what was a super summer in 2015. Not only did she win the B.C. Women’s Amateur last year, she also captured the B.C. and Canadian Junior Girls Championships.

She turns 19 later this month, so won’t be eligible to defend those two junior championships. She’d love to repeat as B.C. Women’s Amateur champion. “There is pressure,” Kim said of being defending champion. “I definitely want to win it again. It is one of my favourite tournaments. British Columbia Golf, in my opinion, put on an A-level tournament for us. They are always working so hard to make it happen for the girls out here.”

Kim, who leads Coquitlam’s Jisoo Keel by one shot, had a successful first year at Idaho. She had five top-10s in the nine events she played and was named Big Sky Conference freshman of the year. “Collegiate golf was everything I expected,” said Kim, who plays out of Northview Golf Club in Surrey. “The level of competition is higher than junior golf and I really enjoyed it. I think the biggest takeaway from my first year would be learning to stay more patient.”

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While this is a big week for Kim, it pales in comparison to the one her big sister Taylor is experiencing this week. Taylor Kim, who just turned pro after completing her collegiate career at Kent State University in Ohio, has qualified to play in this week’s U.S. Women’s Open at Corde Valle Golf Club in San Martin, Calif.

“She is in a very big tournament,” Michelle said of her sister. “She left yesterday at 6 a.m. Our mom was very busy. She had to take them to the airport and then I had the practice round yesterday and she had to drive me here. My sister has always been a huge role model to me and has supported me. She is very excited and I am so happy for her.”

Keel, meanwhile, was not particularly happy with her two-under 70. “It could have been much lower, if some putts had dropped,” she said. “I think I hit every single green on the back nine, but I just could not make a putt.”

Madisen Bentley of University Place, Wash., and Hannah Lee of Surrey are tied for third after opening with one-under 71s. “I think the key to playing here is hitting solid tee shots and placing it in the right spot in the fairway for your second shot,” said Lee, who is heading into Grade 12 but has already committed to playing her collegiate golf at the University of Oklahoma.

Tiffany Kong of Vancouver and Mary Parsons of Delta both shot even-par 72s and are tied for fifth spot. Kong, who is only entering Grade 10, entered the event having made two holes-in-one in the last month. “I had one at Shaughnessy on No. 12 last month and then on Monday during the practice round here at Beach Grove I had one on the fourth hole. It was 141 yards and I used a 7-iron,” Kong said.

CHIP SHOTS: New Westminster’s Breanna Croxen aced the 138-yard par 3 16th hole on Tuesday. The 59-player field will be cut to the low 35 and ties after Wednesday’s second round.