Ziemer's B.C. Golf Notes: Lauren Kim gets sneak peek of Augusta National; Taylor ties for 26th at Players Championship; Macdonald, Rowe in field for PGA Tour Americas debut; Chelsea Truong to defend title at this summer’s B.C. Women’s Amateur

BC's Lauren Kim Will Tee It Up At Augusta Next Month - Kim Photo Couresty Golf Canada/BBrault

By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf

Surrey’s Lauren Kim had to pinch herself a couple of times to make sure she wasn’t dreaming, that she really was walking the fairways of Augusta National Golf Club.

“It was kind of unbelievable that I was even there,” Kim said of her recent visit to the legendary layout. “I didn’t think I would ever be playing at Augusta.” The really good news is that the 18-year University of Texas freshman will be playing it again very soon. Hopefully, twice.

Kim, the reigning Canadian Women’s Amateur champion, has a spot in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, which goes April 3-6.

The first two rounds will be played at Champions Retreat Golf Club in Augusta. Following a 36-hole cut, the entire field will play a practice round at Augusta National on April 5, while the top 30 players will play Augusta National in the final round on Saturday, April 6. Kim got to play the course earlier this month with her college coach and two teammates.

“Being there and seeing the course is one thing, but playing it was such a cool experience,” Kim said. “All of the grandstands were basically set up. It was all ready to go. The course is just so pristine and so nice. Every time you hit your ball onto the fairway it would be sitting up, it’s like someone teed it up for you. It’s great and so pretty.”

Kim, of course, remembers every shot of that round. A couple of them stand out. She stuck a 6-iron to inside nine feet of the back right pin on the par 3 12th hole, part of Augusta’s Amen Corner. She missed that birdie putt, but made a birdie on the par 5 15th hole after dropping a wedge three feet from the hole.

“I had a lot of birdie opportunities,” she said. “I think I hit almost every green. It was a special day and I think Amen Corner (holes 11, 12 and 13) really stood out for me. It’s so beautiful.”

Like so many who see Augusta National for the first time, Kim was struck by how hilly parts of the course are. “I was so excited and happy to be there that it maybe didn’t seem that hilly, but on the way home I was like, ‘holy smokes, my legs are aching right now,” she said.

Her round at Augusta allowed Kim to formulate a game plan of sorts for when she gets to play it in the tournament. “I am a pretty good ball-striker, so I feel like I don’t have to worry too much about that,” Kim said.

“I think approach shots are really important and where you place the ball on the greens is crucial. And taking your pars is really important because those greens aren’t easy to read and a two-putt is usually really good. You just take your par and move on. I think being patient and having a good approach and short game are going to be very important to score well.”

Kim also got to play Champions Retreat, where the first two rounds will be played.  “It will definitely be a good test for all of the players. It doesn’t really matter how long you are, you need to be accurate and know where to put the ball on the green.”

Augusta National covers all expenses for players competing in the tournament, as well as one guest, so Kim’s dad, Kevin, will be on hand to watch his daughter play the event.

BOUNCE BACK: Abbotsford’s Nick Taylor flirted with the lead through two rounds of the Players Championship, but fell out of contention after a tough third round at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.. He rebounded with a two-under 70 in the final round to finish tied for 26th at eight-under par. Taylor made $186,250. “Three rounds were good,” Taylor told TSN.“Essentially, the first 10 holes (Saturday) turned a great tournament into a decent week.”

Abbotsford’s Adam Hadwin and Surrey’s Adam Svensson both missed the cut. Hadwin made headlines after the first round when he tossed his wedge into the water after dunking his approach shot to the 18th green. That followed him finding the water on the infamous par 3 17th, where he made a double-bogey. “At that point in the round I was just in a terrible headspace,” Hadwin told TSN. “You have to be better, emotionally and mentally, than that.”

Svensson, who has now missed three straight cuts and four of his last six, has made a caddie change. Ontario native Jace Walker, who previously caddied for Mackenzie Hughes, will be on Svensson’s bag at this week’s Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, Fla. Taylor, Hadwin and Merritt’s Roger Sloan are also in the field at the Valspar, where Hadwin collected his lone PGA Tour win in 2017.

TOUR DEBUT: Vancouver’s Stuart Macdonald and Lawren Rowe of Victoria will be among 10 Canadians in the field when the PGA Tour Americas holds its debut event this week in Tulum, Mexico. The $225,000 Bupa Championship at Tulum is the first of six events that will be held in Mexico and South America. The PGA Tour Americas, created by the merger of the PGA Tour Canada and PGA Tour LatinoAmerica circuits, then heads north for nine events in Canada and one in the United States.

The Beachlands Victoria Open presented by Times Colonist at Uplands Golf Club in Victoria kicks off the tour’s North American swing June 20-23. The top 10 players will earn exempt Korn Ferry Tour status at the end of the season. Conditional Korn Ferry Tour memberships will go to the top two finishers of the Latin American swing and the top three finishers of the North American swing.

COLLEGE CORNER: Vancouver’s Victoria Liu, a junior at Princeton University, finished solo third at the Tulane Classic in New Orleans. Liu completed the 54-hole event at even-par, three shots behind individual winner Fleur van Beek of Missouri. Meera Minhas and Dana Smith both finished inside the top 10 as the Simon Fraser University women’s team finished 10th in the 15-team CSUSM Fujikura Invite in San Marcos, Calif. Minhas, a Burnaby native, was fourth at nine-over par, while Campbell River’s Smith tied for ninth at 12-over.

CLOSE AGAIN: Coquitlam’s A.J. Ewart had his second straight strong showing on the Asher Tour. Ewart tied for third at the Temecula Open in California, finishing the 54-hole event at 11-under par. That was five shots behind winner Patrick Flavin of Highwood, Ill. Ewart, who finished solo fourth at the Asher Tour’s Pasadera Cup earlier this month in Monterey, Calif., made $4,938.

ROAD TRIP: Victoria’s Chelsea Truong did not have to travel far when she won last summer’s B.C. Women’s Amateur Championship at Arbutus Ridge Golf Club in Cobble Hill. She won’t be able to commute to and from the golf course when she defends that title this summer. The 119th edition of the Women’s Amateur is being played June 10-13 at Balfour Golf Course in the west Kootenays. Truong, who is finishing up Grade 12 at Oak Bay Secondary and heading to the University of New Mexico on a golf scholarship this fall, has confirmed her spot in the field at Balfour. The B.C. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship will be played concurrently with the Women’s Amateur at Balfour.