Hyo Joo Kim’s 61, Michelle’s WD at Evian
The LPGA witnessed another first by a young magician today, as Hyo Joo Kim, a pro since last year, shot a record-breaking 61 in the first round of the Evian Championship, the next major in the LPGA’s season It was a course record, a tournament record, and an LPGA record as the lowest round ever shot in any round on tour. Go ahead and look at the LPGA site’s scorecards for each player. Birdies are marked in blue boxes, bogeys are yellow/gold and burnt orange. You’ve never seen so much blue in your life, and so little of anything else on a scorecard.
In fact, it took some real fortitude from veterans such as Karrie Webb and Suzann Pettersen to keep tournament sponsors from just throwing their hands in the air and giving her the check.
It’s a brilliant strategy for winning a tournament, but rarely successful – shoot a round so amazing that you steal, for all intents and purposes, the tournament from the field, and make them play for second. That, of course, is increasingly difficult, trying to keep it that way over four days, but it’s a heck of a way to start. To Pettersen’s credit, she preached patience to herself as the Korean fireball tore up the course, telling herself just to keep going, and then we’d all see what happens. For many of us, “to be patient with herself” suggests just standing around waiting for the super kid to flame out, but that’s not exactly what competitors like Webb and Pettersen really mean by “patience.” Pettersen, for example, ran off five birdies while she was waiting – well, it was something to do, and those birdies might come in handy if Kim doesn’t shoot four 61s.
Kim’s putter was described by one column as a “magic wand,” but in those menacing shades and Jedi-like green-reading, she was more of an LPGA Darth Vadress with a one-putt light saber. I am told that beneath that steely facade is very nice person, but I’ll have to wait and see about that.
The scuttlebutt around South Korea is that Jyo Hoo Kim is probably destined to be one of the greatest golfers ever to come out of that country. While she was winning everything in sight, her national team was out winning gold medals, and didn’t even invite her to join in the fun, which gives us an idea of how profound the stable of talent must be. By 2012, she’d won a KLPGA event by a shocking nine strokes, and this isn’t the first time she’s done the scary 61 thing during a competitive event, by whipping one up at the Suntory Ladies Open on the JLPGA.
How time does roll on. While Kim’s record-shattering day served as the highlight of the Evian, U.S. Open Women’s Champion Michelle Wie didn’t make it through the round at all. She’s been injured for five weeks, and hit what she described as a “stinger three-wood.” I hope that her fears of taking the rest of the year off are unfounded, but these things heal slowly, and often can’t tolerate being put under tremendous pressure week to week. At the age of twenty-four, Wie may not be in her “wunderkind” years any longer, but she could be in her prime, and shouldn’t spend it injured. It’s a said thing to see wasted weeks pass by for such a great player.
Meanwhile, not yet at the age of twenty, the new South Korean superstar, nicknamed “Big Eyes,” is holding the 2014 Evian Championship ransom until someone decides to do something about it. We’ll see if she comes back to earth tomorrow.