By Kevin Raftery, Daily Sports Writer
Published April 7, 2011
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Any time senior Lion Kim needed a little extra encouragement during Thursday’s first round at The Masters, all he had to do was look into the crowd.
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His family, former teammates, friends, current coaches, and hundreds of Michigan fans were following his every move.
Former Michigan golfers Ross Millman and Billy McKay, both of whom graduated in 2010, were a part of the Lion Kim Fan Club on Thursday.
“It’s definitely a once in a lifetime experience, at least at this point in our careers,” Millman said. “It was fun to watch him, that’s for sure. It was very exciting.”
McKay, who is now playing on a mini tour in Arizona, attempted to put into words what it would be like to be in Kim’s shoes.
“I can imagine the crowds,” he said, “But I can’t imagine playing on this golf course and this venue. It’s gotta be pretty surreal for him, but he handled it pretty unbelievably.”
But even under the microscope of the golf world, both McKay and Millman commented it was the same Lion on the course — always calm, always focused.
“You don’t know what (score) he’s at (because of his demeanor),” Millman said. “He could be 3-under or 3-over — you don’t know.”
And for McKay, who was hollering support to Kim at every chance he could get, there was one phrase he couldn’t get enough of.
“(For) any Michigan player, you get to yell ‘Go Blue!’ on every hole,” he said. “Who doesn’t want to do that?”
Both former Wolverines will be back on the course Friday, cheering their former teammate on.
And knowing Kim, neither would be surprised to see him perform well under the spotlight.
“He really plays well when it comes to big events,” said Millman, the former Michigan men's golf team captain. “I’m expecting him to play well tomorrow, and I think he is, too.”
PLAYING HOOKEY?: Kim, who has been in Augusta since the middle of last week, has missed a lot of class — but most of his teachers understand why.
“Surprisingly every professor knew what the Masters was, except one,” he said. “She didn’t have a clue. I said, ‘It’s like the Super Bowl of golf,’ and she was like, ‘Okay, great.’ ”
Playing at the Masters may have been a valid excuse for missing class, but it won’t get him out of the three papers and three exams he’s missed.
“It’s gonna be a terrible week when I get back,” he said.
SHOE CREW: Several times throughout the round on Thursday, people commented on Kim’s maize, blue and white shoes, noting how stylish they were.
The shoes, which read “Lion” on the heel, matched his maize and blue Michigan shirt. For anyone who didn’t know where Kim attends school, all they had to do was take a look at his apparel.
“(The shoes) were very comfortable,” he said. “I actually wore them two or three times before coming in today, so it didn’t bother me one bit.”
WEATHER UPDATE: After temperatures hovered in the 50s and winds howled during the practice round on Tuesday, conditions have improved each day.
“The ball wasn’t rolling a whole lot in the fairway, but it will continue to dry out and get harder and better,” former Masters champion Zach Johnson said after his round Thursday.
Sunscreen was an essential on Thursday as the temperature reached the low 80s and no clouds bothered the sun all day. Temperatures are forecasted to be almost 90 by Saturday, with only a slight chance of a passing storm, making the course conditions nearly perfect for the weekend.