28 Nov 2023 | Women's Australian Open | Australian Open | Professional golf |
Open heartbreak leads to a memorable year for Grace Kim
by Paul Munnings
While last year’s ISPS HANDA Women’s Australian Open ended in a heartbreaking finish for Grace Kim, she believes the near-miss at Victoria Golf Club was a great confidence booster for what turned into a memorable 2023.
Chasing the first win by an Australian in the national championship since 2014, the Sydneysider had fought her way through to the lead when she came to the 18th tee in the final round.
However the most untimely of wayward tee shots on the closing par-5 led to a double-bogey to drop Kim to fourth place, three shots behind the eventual winner, South Africa’s Ash Buhai.
That unfortunate ending became the forerunner to success just a few months later when Kim won at just her third start as a fulltime member of the LPGA Tour, taking out the Lotte Championship in Hawaii.
The 22-year-old said the tough Open outcome had proven useful in her career development.
“I was close but obviously no cigar, but that’s okay,” Kim said of her 2022 Open experience.
“It really kind of settled my mind and told me that I belong with all those LPGA Tour girls who came out to play at the Oz Open.
“I guess it was a really big confidence booster for me. It was any easy transition into the Tour this year.”
In 2023, as well as breaking through for her debut LPGA Tour win in her rookie season, Kim’s world ranking climbed from just inside the top 200 at the start of the year to a high of No.55.
She will start this week ranked 78th – the third highest Australian behind major winners Minjee Lee and Hannah Green.
It’s her first chance to play a Women’s Australian Open in her home city and she will no doubt gather plenty of support at The Australian and The Lakes, starting on Thursday.
“I’m really excited to be home. Obviously playing in the Oz Open as well, but it’s more of like a homecoming for me. So it’s really nice to see everybody, saying hi and playing against everyone will just be fun.” she said.
“I’m just really looking forward to the week.”
Kim also took time out to meet some junior golfers at Moore Park Golf Club on Monday, expressing her support for grassroots club golf where she first started the game.
"I grew up .... kind of hacking around Massey Park," she said.
"If it wasn’t for these public golf courses, I don't know where I would have started my golf."
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