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Canada Kim is calm, cool and collected before the Augusta National Women's Amateur Championship

Canada Kim is calm, cool and collected before the Augusta National Women's Amateur Championship

If Lauren Kim is afraid of Augusta National Golf Club, it doesn't show.

The 19-year-old collegiate golfer from Surrey, British Columbia, is the only Canadian in the field at the Augusta National Women's Amateur Championship this week. She said her strategy in the elite amateur event was to win the tournament one tournament at a time, a strategy that paid off as she had an even-par 72 in the opening round on Wednesday.

Kim was in an 11-way tie for 29th, six shots behind leader Hannah Darling of Scotland.

“The most important thing is to try to get into the top 30 and get to the weekend,” Kim said after her training round on Tuesday. “But that won't really be on my mind, I'll just focus on the shot in front of me and try to stay present. That's the most important thing.”

Kim won the 2023 Canadian Women's Amateur on Aug. 4 to play in last year's CPKC Women's Open at Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club in Vancouver. She also won the women's stroke play singles championship at the Jackson T. Stevens Cup in the fourth playoff on October 11.

Now a freshman on the University of Texas women's golf team, Kim took a training trip with her teammates playing at Champions Retreat Golf Club, which is hosting the first 36 holes of the event on Wednesday and Thursday. She also trained at Augusta National, which will host the final round on Saturday.

Kim said that visit helped her decide what she needed to work on before the event.

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“I would say a lot of shots around the green, like the short game, it's very important that you try to hit the green but when you don't hit the green here, you have to make sure you try and get up and down,” Kim said. “So there's still a lot of practice.” Short on the game and its placement as well.

“And some of the shots around the trees and some of the paths here are a little narrow with trees and branches.”

Salima Musani, head coach of Golf Canada's women's team, is in Georgia with Kim and helped her during Tuesday's official practice round. Musani said that as good as Kim was at shooting the ball, it was her intelligence that would carry her through the weekend.

“Her strength is her golf IQ,” Musani said. “I think this golf course is very challenging, it's a tough golf course, but her level of thinking on the golf course and managing the golf ball will be a real asset, especially in those first two rounds before the final. Cuts.”

This mental approach is why it's important for Kim not to be bothered by one of the most famous golf courses.

“She loves the big stage,” Musani said. “She thrives in these types of situations, at the Canadian AM Championships and earlier this season in the college event.

“She's prepared for these kinds of things and thrives on them and really looks forward to them and looks at them as opportunities. It's definitely the right mindset.”

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LPGA TOUR – Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont., finished sixth in the Race to CME Globe standings heading into the first round of the T-Mobile Match Play presented by MGM Rewards on Wednesday. Maude-Aimee Leblanc of Sherbrooke, Que., was 130th on the LPGA Tour points list before play began at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas. Henderson opened with a 1-over 73, seven strokes back from leader Sei Young Kim. LeBlanc shot 3 over 75.

PGA TOUR – Two-time Valero Texas Open champion Corey Conners returns to TPC San Antonio this week for his third title at the event. Conners is the highest-ranked Canadian in the field, sitting at No. 47 in the FedEx Cup standings and the Official World Golf Ranking. The Listowel, Ont., product will be joined by Adam Svensson (78) of Surrey, Ben Silverman (96) of Thornhill, Ont., Taylor Pendrith (103) of Richmond Hill, Ont., and Roger Sloan (179) of Merritt, B.C.

KORN FERRY TOUR – Edmonton's Will Pittman sits 15th on the Division 2 Korn Ferry Tour points list heading into this week's Auto Club Championship. He will be joined at Landings Golf & Sports Club By Etienne Papineau (30) from Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., Myles Creighton (37) from Digby, NS, Jared du Toit (68) from Kimberley, BC, and Sudarshan Yellamaraju (122) from Mississauga, Ontario.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 3, 2024.

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press

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