The unthinkable happened to In-Kyung Kim five years ago when she missed a 14-inch putt that would have given her a major championship at the ANA Inspiration.
She has fought the demons from that moment for a long time.
On Sunday in Fife, Scotland, she turned in a gritty, determined performance and captured the Women’s British Open.
“This will encourage other people,” she said of her victory. “Don’t lose hope.”
Kim never lost hope. She worked to be kinder to herself on the course. She is one of the best-liked players on the LPGA Tour. In 2010 she won the Lorena Ochoa Invitational and promptly donated her entire $220,000 winner’s check to charities. Half went to Ochoa’s Foundation, the other half to a charity here in the U.S.
Kim, popularly know as “I.K.,” overcame a week of Scottish weather and outplayed the best women’s golf has to offer.
She went into Sunday’s finale at Kingsbarns with a six-shot lead. A six-shot lead can be meaningless in a major championship. Just ask Greg Norman.
Surely someone would make a fierce run at Kim and that run came from an unlikely player.
Jodi Ewart Shadoff is hardly a household name but the young Brit came up with a career round and her 64 got her to 16-under par for the championship and turned up the heat on Kim.
Kim got the start she needed when her iron shot to the first hole, a par three, stopped just two feet from the hole. She made that, no sweat then got another at the eighth that got her to 19-under, the scoring record held by Karen Stupples. But a bogey at nine put her even more into the “grind it out” mode.
She was undaunted down the stretch, she was perfect when she needed to be. At the difficult 16th and 17th it was nothing but fairways and greens. The 17th is a killer with a deep burn guarding the front of the green. “Burn” is Scottish for a damn deep ditch. No problem for I.K. She stuck her second within 15 feet to virtually lock this one up.
The 18th was easy, no problem. Another fairway, second to 18 feet, darn near made the birdie. It was nine straight hard-earned pars to shoot 71 and close the deal at 18-under par. Hand her the trophy!
She is the champion but didn’t expect it.
“I feel quite uplifted, I have to say because I really didn’t expect to win this week. And having the lead and then going into the last round, was a great task. I think I managed it quite well.”
Indeed she did.
The world needs more people like I.K. She is resilient, a deep-thinker, polite yet determined.
“This is something I always wanted but it was so far away,” she sighed after her clutch performance.
She’s a fan of The Beatles, has a Beatles ball-maker on the brim of her golf cap. She plays guitar and was classically trained on the piano. A true music lover.
Now she’s also a major champion.
Which perhaps makes her one of a kind.
Find another major golf champion, man or woman, who plays piano, guitar, is a Beatles fan and overcame the horrific experience of missing a 14-inch putt that would have won a major.
Yes, truly one of a kind.
The right kind with the right stuff.