The Wolverine

September 2018*

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 68 of 75

SEPTEMBER 2018 THE WOLVERINE 69 BY JOHN BORTON L ion Kim fluidly glided his putter through the ball, watching it traverse flaw- lessly eight feet of the most prestigious golf course in the world. Its short journey ended with a six-inch dive downward. Kim's birdie at the first hole of The Masters in 2011 rep- resented the dream of count- less thousands of golfers, and drew a quick response. "When I came back from The Masters, I had a bunch of calls and texts," Kim recalled. "One particular text said, 'Hey man, you were tied for seventh for a little bit there. "Both Davis Love [III] and Jose Maria [Olazabal] bo- geyed it, and here I am as an amateur, birdieing the hole. That was pretty cool." These days, Kim's leader- board doesn't involve those playing partners and other big-name PGA profession- als. He's competing in busi- ness, working diligently in Atlanta as a senior sales representative and team lead for Riskalyze, a software company. "It's like being a captain on a sports team," he said of his team lead du- ties. "You still have to perform, and you still have to do the work. At the same time, it's a leadership role." From All-American golfer at Mich- igan and putting up a circled num- ber at Augusta National to sales, he insists the key involves competing. "I still bring my competitiveness to work every day," Kim stressed. "It's like golf. There's a number we have to put up at the end of the day. This is no different in software sales. I have a quota I have to meet. If I exceed my quota, my commission will be a lot higher. " S i x t y - e i g h t m a y b e a g re a t round, but if you shoot 64, that's even better." Kim didn't shoot either of those numbers at Augusta, going 76-72 in his two days of competition. Missing the cut didn't ruin what proved to be an incredible experience, highlight- ing his days as an amateur. "It was arguably the most fun I've ever had on the golf course," he re- called. "It was a dream come true for me to be playing in The Masters, to play alongside some of the greatest golfers in the world. "It was a humbling experience. To have my family there was extra special." The first-hole birdie certainly proved a red-letter (and number) moment, but Kim's wonder during the "tradition unlike any other" be- gan long before. He'd already par- ticipated in the par-three contest with Bubba Watson and Aaron Baddeley, played practice rounds with K.J. Choi, Zach Johnson and Rory Sabba- tini, and accepted Choi's lunch invi- tation in The Grill room at Augusta. "I'm there eating lunch with my family," Kim reminisced. "Just 10 feet away from me is Mr. [Arnold] Palmer, having lunch with his wife. Mr. Jack Nicklaus walks in. Mr. [Tom] Watson walks in. "I see Gary Player, just out- side our dining hall. Those are the moments you just have to pinch yourself and wonder, wow, is this real?" It was, and so was Kim's auspicious start to the tour- nament. He actually found himself two strokes up on his playing partners, who weren't exactly low profile. "They were going to be the Ryder Cup captains the com- ing year," Kim noted. "It was a big story line — the two Ry- der Cup captains playing, and then there's me." The hard realities of golf soon followed. Despite the hot start, Kim entered the 36th hole of the tournament know- ing he needed a birdie to have a chance at making the cut. He selected a six-iron for his crucial second shot into Augusta National's tough-to- birdie 18th hole. Normally, that would have been the right choice. "I was so amped up," he said. "The adrenaline rush was amazing. I hit it so good, but with the adrenaline rush going through my body, I hit the ball about 40 feet past the pin. I ended up three-putting. "Whether you miss the cut by one shot or 10 shots, a missed cut is a missed cut. Obviously, I wanted to do everything I could to finish strong. Unfortunately, I bogeyed the last hole." Disappointing holes marked the exception for Kim, who played at Augusta the spring of his senior year at Michigan. He'd already enjoyed a stellar career in Ann Arbor, with ac- complishments as distinctive as his name. Kim's given name is Jun Min Kim, but his father tweaked it when the future Wolverine began playing in junior tournaments. There might be 15 or 16 Korean Kims in the field, but one stood out. "My father, smart as he is, didn't want my name lost in all the Kims," he noted. "Lion Kim and Lion King, people remember it that way. He felt   WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Lion Kim Looks To Break Par In Business Kim was a two-time Division I PING All-America honorable men- tion selection and finished his Michigan career with the school's third-best career scoring average (73.26). PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN ATHLETIC MEDIA RELATIONS

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