By Kevin Raftery, Daily Sports Writer
Published March 24, 2011
At times, Michigan senior Lion Kim has had trouble concentrating on college golf during the Michigan men’s golf team’s spring season.
“I didn’t have a hard time in the fall,” Kim said. “I was just all focused about helping this team win golf tournaments and doing well. But in all honesty, yeah it’s been kind of hard (focusing in the spring).”
Kim, Michigan’s captain, won the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship in July to qualify for this year’s Masters.
In just over a week, the Lake Mary, Fla. native will be walking down the immaculate fairways of Augusta National Golf Club, competing against the best golfers in the world.
Can you blame him for lacking a little concentration?
He’s had a lot of time to think about what it’s going to be like competing with and against players like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, playing on Amen Corner — the famous three-hole stretch of holes 11-13 — and experiencing what every golfer dreams about.
“Once the spring season rolled around, in my mind, I really used the four tournaments that we played as a preparation for the Masters,” Kim said. “But with that said, I was still giving my best because at the end of the day I’ve got to help my scores and help my team out.”
But Kim has practiced away from the college game, too. He’s traveled to Augusta three times since November, and he will be there the weekend before the tournament to get in some extra practice.
Though he’ll be playing on a new course — and one of the most difficult courses in the world — the focus of his practice rounds has been the same as if he were playing in any other tournament.
“Short game,” Kim said. “That’s where you score, around the greens. You gotta have a great feeling with your short game, and most importantly you have to have a good feel for the greens, the slopes and everything.”
And of course, Kim spent some time checking out the course as a whole, too.
“(The course) was everything I imagined it being,” he said. “It’s absolutely stunning. It’s exactly how you would see it on TV.”
For Michigan coach Andrew Sapp, watching one of his players play in the Masters will truly be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Sapp, a North Carolina native, had chances to go to the Masters as a fan when he was younger, but he declined the opportunity.
“I had some relatives that actually had tickets, but I wanted to have a good reason to go,” he said.
And now he’s found his reason.
Sapp will be going heading to Augusta on Monday, the day after coaching his team at the LSU Intercollegiate, to support Kim.
“It’s almost as good as going down to play yourself,” Sapp said. “I’m definitely looking forward to being able to experience it with him and seeing it more than just from a fan’s point of view, but also the players’ point of view.”
And for Kim, anything could happen on the No. 1-ranked golf course in the world. March Madness will have just passed at the start of the tournament, but there’s no saying April won’t hold some insanity of its own.
“If I do well, it could open up some doors in the future,” Kim said. “But at the end of the day, whatever happens, happens. I’m just really looking forward to competing in the Masters. And also, most importantly, to have fun and enjoy it.”