SUGAR GROVE, Ill. – Purdue senior August Kim stepped out of the scoring tent just off the 18th green Friday at Rich Harvest Farms with all of her rain gear on and a pair of camouflaged hand-warmers in her hand.
Yes, it was that kind of day out there for the opening round of the NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championship – cold, rainy, windy. But unlike her hand-warmers, Kim stood out plenty from nearly all of the morning-wave golfers. In fact, Kim shot an impressive even-par 72 that was matched by just one other player, her playing competitor Elodie Van Dievoet, a sophomore at Michigan.
“I just tried to keep my head where I am right now, just stay present,” Kim said. “I knew the conditions were going to be tough all day and I knew everyone was going through the same thing. So I just went shot by shot, tried to grind out every single one. … I snagged birdies when I could, saved pars when I could, and even some of the bogeys were good bogeys. It was just a grind.”
Said Purdue head coach Devon Brouse: “She stood on the first tee today – she knew what kind of day it was going to be – and she just said, ‘Coach, I just want to stay calm today.’ … August was awesome. If she didn’t play well today I don’t know where we are. She carried us today.”
Kim, who grew up in St. Augustine, Fla., said she would not have been able to play well in these conditions before she arrived at Purdue. Now, she’s comfortable in them. Last week, she and her teammates practiced in similar elements on their home course, Kampen Golf Course in West Lafayette, Ind.
“Great training for today,” Kim said.
Van Dievoet is also used to inclement weather. She is from Brussels, Belgium, which gets more than its fair share of cold, rainy weather. When Van Dievoet was a junior golfer, she remembers what her mother, former European Solheim Cupper Florence Descampe, used to say to her when she complained about bad weather.
“I was just thinking about it today,” Van Dievoet said. “She used to tell me, ‘Come on, stop complaining about the weather. You can’t do anything about it so you might as well just play in it and have fun.’ ”
Van Dievoet and Kim had as much as possible on Friday. They shared a few laughs about the weather and how they were used to it. They also frequently found themselves congratulating each other on good shots. They combined for seven birdies and an eagle.
Of course, few should be surprised. Van Dievoet is coming off a victory at the Big Ten Championship and a ninth-place finish at the NCAA Columbus Regional. Kim was T-8 at Big Tens and T-13 at the Columbus Regional, and she has six other top-6 finishes, including a win, this season.
Kim also qualified for last year’s NCAA Championship as an individual and opened with 68 at Eugene Country Club. She didn’t break 73 after that and ended up T-32.
“I shot 68 last year and I kind of carried that 68 with me for the rest of the tournament,” Kim said.
She doesn’t plan on letting expectations get the better of her this time. On a cold, rainy and windy opening day at the NCAA Championship, both Kim and Van Dievoet exceeded them.
Now, they’re just hoping for some better weather the rest of the way.