Lauren Kim said her four weeks in Korea to start the summer could be the longest she’s gone without playing golf since taking up the game. But it wasn’t intentional – the Los Altos resident lugged her clubs, only to discover she was staying far from the nearest course.
“I was in the middle of a city and didn’t have a car,” said Kim, who was there to take classes and learn the language. “I was able to swing, but I didn’t get to hit many balls.”
When she returned at the end of July, the Los Altos High graduate realized there was a payoff to the layoff.
“I came back refreshed and more motivated,” said Kim, entering her sophomore year at Stanford University.
A month later – playing her first tournament in more than two months – Kim won the 47th annual California Women’s Amateur Championship. Kim edged Tiffany Lim of San Jose in the match-play final, rallying from 4 down Aug. 27 at Quail Lodge Golf Club in Carmel Valley.
Kim had never played in the five-day event, which attracts top amateurs from throughout the state and beyond.
“I didn’t expect to make the final,” she said. “I was using (the tourney) to see where I was and what I needed to work on more. It was a pleasant surprise.”
After two solid rounds of stroke play, Kim survived 36 holes of match play each of the next two days to reach the final.
“Putting was kind of rough – the greens are really tricky – but overall it was a really good week,” she said. “I felt good about my ability to execute shots when I needed them.”
Kim needed plenty of those shots toward the end of the final against Lim, whom she considers a good friend. Kim was 4 down with six holes remaining.
“I was running out of holes and out of time,” Kim said. “I was thinking, ‘Now is the time to do something.’”
Kim gained ground on the next hole, shooting par on No. 13 while Lim bogeyed. Kim bagged birdies on the following two holes – both of which Lim parred – and birdied 17 to tie the match. Both players bogeyed the 18th, forcing an extra hole to determine the winner.
The 37th hole of the day proved to be the last. Kim shot par on No. 1; Lim bogeyed.
“My last putt to win it was pretty special,” Kim said of the 5- to 6-footer. “When I was standing over it, I knew what was on the line, and I made it.”
With summer winding down, Kim is preparing to return to Stanford and embark on her second season with the golf team. The Cardinal’s first event was scheduled this week in Tulsa, Okla. – nearly two weeks before classes begin at Stanford.
“I’m excited to get started,” Kim said.