Surrey Teen Lauren Kim Gets A Spot In U.S. Women’s Open

BC's Lauren Kim Is Off To The U.S. Women's Open At Pine Needles In North Carolina - BC Golf Photo

By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf

The email informing Lauren Kim she has a spot in next month’s U.S. Women’s Open came in the middle of the night. Her dad, an early-riser, saw it first.

“My dad woke up really early and just looked through his email and was like, ‘oh my gosh, Lauren just got into the U.S. Open,’ a delighted Kim said Tuesday.

“But he didn’t say anything because I was sleeping. Then my mom woke up around 6:30 and she came into my room screaming, ‘you just got in!’ It was a nice wake-up call.”

The 16-year-old Kim, who is in Grade 11 at Earl Marriott Secondary, had finished as the first alternate at a U.S. Women’s Open qualifier April 19 at Meridian Valley Country Club in Kent, Wash. After finishing one shot behind lone qualifier Kylee Choi of Murrieta, Calif., Kim beat Jacqueline Bendrick of Mercer Island, Wash., in a playoff to win the first alternate spot.

Her birdie on the first playoff hole turned out to be much bigger than she thought at the time. “I knew there wasn’t a great chance because in previous years I don’t think any of the alternates from the Washington site got any of the spots,” Kim said. “So we were hoping, but kind of knew it probably wasn’t going to happen. We tried to stay positive.”

Her dad, Kevin, who caddied for his daughter that day, joked that he deserves at least partial credit for the playoff win that ultimately got Lauren into the U.S. Open. After lugging Lauren’s bag for 36 holes, Kevin wasn’t looking forward to a lengthy playoff. “That course is so hilly, especially the second hole, so I told her, ‘Lauren, please let’s just finish it off on No. 1. I don’t want to walk up No. 2,’” Kevin said with a laugh.

The U.S. Women’s Open goes June 2-5 at Pine Needles Golf Club in Southern Pines, N.C. Kim, a member of Golf Canada’s national junior team, can’t wait to get there. “I am feeling pretty confident,” she said. “Right now my game is heading in a good direction. I am sure I will be a little bit nervous playing against all of the pros. But it is going to be quite the experience.”

Kim knows she’ll face a challenging golf course in North Carolina. “I am expecting pretty tough conditions,” she said. “I have played in the U.S. Women’s Amateur before so I know that the rough will be pretty long and they keep the greens fairly quick. So it will be important to make sure I place my shots, keep myself in the fairway, get on the greens, try and get myself near the hole and make some putts.”

Kim, who recently committed to the University of Texas, is coming off a second-place finish at the NextGen Pacific Championship at Nanaimo Golf Club. She’ll play the American Junior Golf Association’s Under Armour Valenzuela Girls Invitational May 26-29 at Longbow Golf Club in Mesa, Ariz. “There is good competition there, so it is a good prep event. But in terms of my practice between now and then I am not changing too much. I feel like having a regular routine is the best and what I am doing right now is working for me.”

She has already started thinking about that first tee shot at the U.S. Women’s Open. “I am pretty good at blocking out things like crowds and cameras,” she said. “But I have a feeling that first tee shot is going to be a little nerve-wracking.” Kim got one other piece of exciting news. Apparently, she gets a Lexus courtesy car to use for the week of the U.S. Open. “She only has her L, so I will be driving,” said her dad.

Kim will join two other Canadians in the U.S. Women’s field, Brooke Henderson and Maude-Aimee Leblanc. Asked if she hopes to have a chance to chat with Henderson at the tournament, Kim said: “Oh yes, I think that would be really cool.”