By Kevin Raftery, Daily Sports Writer
Published April 4, 2011
AUGUSTA, Ga. — After winning the US Amateur Public Links Tournament in July, his ticket was punched and his dream was about to become reality — but Michigan golfer Lion Kim was still missing an essential component that every successful golfer must have.
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He was missing the Robin to his Batman, the Shaggy to his Scooby Doo, the Tails to his Sonic — Kim needed a caddy.
So in early February, when Kim traveled to Augusta for practice, he went searching for one. He tried out four different caddies, hoping to find the perfect fit for his game.
Each caddy went out with him on the course, exchanging conversations with Kim and encouraging him as he navigated his way through the pristine fairways of Augusta National.
And by the end of the trip, Kim had found his caddy — Louis Laurence, a 62-year-old former pro who has caddied at Augusta since 1988.
“His knowledge of the golf course and just the way he approaches shots is what set him apart,” Kim said. “He keeps it pretty simple. He just says the right things at the right time. He keeps me loose and gives me confidence.”
Laurence, who has caddied twice in the Masters for former tour pro Tommy Aaron (in 2002 and 2003), was delighted to have the opportunity to caddy for Kim.
“When I caddied for (Aaron), he was at the end of his career, so it was more or less a formality,” Laurence said. “It was fun, but this is the first legitimate chance that I’ve had to caddy for anybody that plays as well as Lion does.”
Laurence praised Kim’s game several times, saying he’s got “all the tools” to be successful at the Masters.
“He’s got a wonderful short game,” Laurence said. “Amazing short game, and that’s what he does so well, and that’s what you gotta do here.
“I told him, ‘All you have to do is put blinders on and play golf.' Because this week, this place is going to take on a transformation that people are not ready for, especially amateurs … It’s a daunting experience.”
Though he met Kim less than two months ago, Laurence has worked hard to make sure he knows Kim’s game as best he can.
According to Laurence, Kim has all the physical tools, but will need to focus on the mental aspect of the game — that could make or break his experience in Augusta.
“He gets very down on himself when he hits bad shots,” Laurence said. “You can’t do that. Everybody hits bad shots, even the best. You’ve got to have amnesia when you hit a bad shot.”
It may be true that in the past Kim would get down on himself too easily.
But when Kim steps on the course for the first round on Thursday, he will have an extra edge that he hasn’t had in previous tournaments he’s played in his collegiate career.
He’ll have Laurence standing next to him, reminding him to move on to the next shot no matter what has just happened — and if he can get over that mental barrier, there’s no telling how far Kim could go this weekend.
“I told him, ‘You could be on the brink of history,’ “ Laurence said. “If you win this tournament … I don’t know how you could top that.”