20 Apr 2023 | Professional golf |

Aussies on Tour - Kim's next major hurdle step at Chevron

by Tony Webeck

Grace Kim Lotte image
Grace Kim is one of six Aussies playing a major this week. Photo: Getty

Those who were there for the first two rounds of TPS Sydney at Bonnie Doon Golf Club in February were convinced. Convinced that a young player en route to the LPGA Tour would continue to expertly dissect the golf course and street a field of Australia’s best men and women, including a number of established LPGA Tour players. Consecutive rounds of seven-under 64 had put Grace Kim three shots clear of Brendan Jones, Daniel Gale and amateur sensation Jeffrey Guan, barely a missed shot across the 36 holes played in blustery conditions. Winning pro-am partners just two days earlier, Sydney Sixers star Daniel Christian emerged on the south-east corner of the property to watch Kim finish her second round. Another of their pro-am team-mates, Sydney Roosters captain James Tedesco, was receiving live updates via text message from tournament host, Braith Anasta. And then something astonishing happened. The tournament that everyone expected was Kim’s for the taking suddenly wasn’t. From seemingly out of nowhere, a third round of four-over 75 sent her tumbling down the leaderboard. She was seven shots off the lead when the final round began. A closing three-under 68 for a tie for 20th was not the weekend the now 22-year-old had planned yet her response reaffirms her position as our next major winner in waiting. Rather than seeing it as a setback, Kim and coach Khan Pullen saw it as another step forward in her preparation for a maiden season on the LPGA Tour. That approach was vindicated last week when, in just her third start of the season, Kim won the Lotte Championship in Hawaii in a playoff. She won in her rookie year also on the secondary Epson Tour on her way to promotion to the LPGA Tour last year, continuing her history of winning at every level. Last week’s victory resulted in a 98-place jump in the world rankings to 80th, now third behind Minjee Lee (No.4) and Hannah Green (No.24) as Australia’s highest-ranked players on the Rolex Women’s World Golf Ranking. She is one of six Aussies in the field this week for the first women’s major of 2023 – The Chevron Championship at The Club at Carlton Woods – and will begin her second major championship in the perfect frame of mind. “She just knows what to do when she is in and around the lead,” Pullen said. “More specifically, recently she seems to have this ‘inner peace’ and general comfort of who she is as a person both on and off the course. “The messaging for her this year has been about being patient and settling in and enjoying being on the LPGA Tour this year. “I would say she has done a great job with that to date!” Elsewhere this week Brad Kennedy and Lucas Herbert are both teeing it up in the DP World Tour’s first tournament hosted in Japan, the ISPS HANDA Championship at PGM Ishioka Golf Club. Kennedy was one-under early in his opening round on Thursday morning with Herbert to tee off at 1pm AEST. There’s a strong Aussie flavour at the PGA TOUR’s Zurich Classic with two all-Australian pairings to play together the first two rounds. The two-man teams event won by Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman in 2021 will see Scottsdale neighbours Aaron Baddeley and Harrison Endycott join forces while Dallas-based veterans Greg Chalmers and Cameron Percy have been drawn in the same group. Smith and Leishman are heading up the Ripper GC team that also boasts Matt Jones and Jed Morgan as LIV Golf makes its first appearance in Australia. There are 13 major winners in the field for LIV Golf Adelaide at Grange Golf Club, with play to commence from 11.45am Friday. Brett Drewitt and Rhein Gibson will be out to solidify their place within the top 10 on the Korn Ferry Tour points list at the LECOM Suncoast Classic and there are six Aussies in the field at the Champions Tour’s Invited Celebrity Classic in Texas. Round 1 tee times AEST


The Chevron Championship The Club at Carlton Woods, The Woodlands, Texas 10.48pm Hannah Green, Madelene Sagstrom, Ally Ewing 10.48pm* Grace Kim, Lizette Salas, Celine Boutier 11.21pm* Lydia Ko (NZ), Lexi Thompson, Charley Hull 3.15am Stephanie Kyriacou, Matilda Castren, Pia Babnik 3.37am* Sarah Kemp, Maddie Szeryk, Elizabeth Szokol 4.21am Minjee Lee, Nelly Korda, In Gee Chun 4.54am* Karis Davidson, Caroline Inglis, Moriya Jutanugarn Defending champion: Jennifer Kupcho Past Aussie winners: Karrie Webb (2000, 2006) TV times: Live 1am-5am Friday on Fox Sports 505; Live 8am-10am Friday on Fox Sports 503; Live 1am-5am Saturday on Fox Sports 505; Live 8am-10am Saturday on Fox Sports 503; Live 4am-8am Sunday on Fox Sports 505; Live 8am-10am Sunday on Fox Sports 503; Live 4am-8am Monday on Fox Sports 505 and Kayo Sports. DP World Tour

ISPS HANDA Championship PGM Ishioka GC, Omitama, Japan 9.05am* Brad Kennedy, Tapio Pulkkanen, Kodai Ichihara 12.10pm* Daniel Hillier (NZ), Marcus Kinhult, Tomoyasu Sugiyama 1pm Lucas Herbert, Kazuki Higa, Rafa Cabrera Bello Defending champion: Inaugural event Past Aussie winners: Nil TV times: Live 1pm-6pm Thursday, Friday; Live 1pm-5.30pm Saturday; Live 1pm-3pm Sunday on Fox Sports 503; Live 2.50pm-5.30pm Sunday on Fox Sports 506 and Kayo Sports. LIV Golf

LIV Golf Adelaide The Grange Golf Club, Adelaide, South Australia Australasians in the field: Cameron Smith, Marc Leishman, Matt Jones, Jediah Morgan, Danny Lee (NZ) Defending champion: Inaugural event Past Aussie winners: Nil TV times: Live 12pm-5pm Friday on Channel 7 and 7 Plus; Live 12pm-5pm Saturday on Channel 7 and 7 Plus; Live 11.30am-4.30pm Sunday on Channel 7 and 7 Plus. PGA TOUR

Zurich Classic of New Orleans TPC Louisiana, Avondale, Louisiana 10pm Geoff Ogilvy/Kevin Stadler, Grayson Murray/Wesley Bryan 4.49am* Aaron Baddeley/Harrison Endycott, Greg Chalmers/Cameron Percy Defending champions: Xander Schauffele/Patrick Cantlay Past Aussie winners: Cameron Smith/Jonas Blixt (2017), Cameron Smith/Marc Leishman (2021) TV times: Live 10.30pm-8am Thursday, Friday; Live 3am-8am Sunday, Monday on Fox Sports 503. Korn Ferry Tour

LECOM Suncoast Classic Lakewood National Golf Club (Commander Cse), Lakewood Ranch, Florida 9.33pm Curtis Luck, Tain Lee, Jeff Overton 9.55pm* Brett Drewitt, José de Jesús Rodríguez, Rick Lamb 2.58am* Rhein Gibson, Tag Ridings, Dan McCarthy Defending champion: Byeong Hun An Past Aussie winners: Nil Champions Tour

Invited Celebrity Classic Las Colinas Country Club, Irving, Texas Australasians in the field: Steven Alker (NZ), Stuart Appleby, Richard Green, Mark Hensby, David McKenzie, Rod Pampling, John Senden Defending champion: Scott Parel Past Aussie winners: Nil TV times: 12pm-1pm Saturday on Fox Sports 503; Live 8am-9am Sunday on Fox Sports 503; Live 6am-9am Monday on Fox Sports 507 and Kayo Sports.

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