Everyone loves a crowd-pleaser

Christina Kim applauds Catriona Matthew at the Ricoh Women's British Open.

LYTHAM ST ANNES, England – Professional golf needs more Christina Kims – a lot more.

Give me 144 of them in every field, every week. Give me players on the male circuits with her personality, too. Maybe then we’d spark some life into what is becoming a moribund professional game.

Royal Lytham St. Annes and Turnberry shared much in common. Both seemed very flat most of the time, and there seemed much less interaction between players and fans than in previous years.

True, the women are brilliant when it comes to signing autographs – much better than the men. The women patiently go down the line of fans waiting outside the scorer’s hut without fail and sign everything offered to them. With the men, it depends on how they’ve played.

However, I’ve notice a distinct lack of recognition for the fans in both British Opens.

For some reason the game seems to have become a breeding ground for faceless automatons who go through the motions looking miserable and grim. You’d think they were playing under duress rather than earning a very nice living from trying to guide a small white ball around a green and pleasant field.

Often times they will receive a round of applause and then grudgingly acknowledge it, if at all.

Contrast their actions with Kim’s here at Royal Lytham. She was a breath of fresh air.

She acknowledged every ovation, every cheer.

That’s as it should be.

Professional golf as a source of entertainment ended a long time ago. We’ve gone from the days when players actually interacted with fans to a scenario where all they feel they need to do is play golf shots and nothing else.

Fans don’t get much for the cost of their tickets.

Thanks for coming!

Kim might not have won the Women’s British Open, but she left Lytham St. Annes with a lot of fans. The effervescent 25-year-old thrilled the galleries with her histrionics, especially in the final round.

“In a weird way she’s a delight,” Peter Alliss said. Thousands of British golf fans who attended the four days at Royal Lytham & St. Annes can relate to that.

Watching Kim play in the final group was almost as much fun as watching Catriona Matthew win her first major.

And I’m Scottish!

Maybe Kim’s personality shone through more on the final day because of who she was playing with. Matthew may be one of the nicest women in professional golf, but she doesn’t give much of her personality away. Think of Retief Goosen and you get the idea, although that’s probably unfair to Matthew. She smiles more on one hole than Goosen smiles in four days.

Kim seemed more excited about Matthew’s first major win than the Scot herself. Kim was the one firing up the crowd walking onto the final green.

Kim pumped up the crowd with her arms as they walked onto the green, urging them to get up out of their seats and make some noise. Then when Matthew tapped in from an inch to clinch the title, it was Kim who let out a whoop of delight.

Kim harks back to an age when more professionals wore their hearts on their sleeves.

“Growing up I watched Lee Trevino play a lot of golf and I thought, man that dude is cool,” Kim said. “He wears his heart on his sleeve, his emotions were running high and sometimes when you're in a right circumstance, your emotions will help push you to a better place in your golf.

Given Matthew’s even-keeled temperament, you’d have thought playing with Kim in the final round would have been a source of distraction. Not so.

“It's always good fun to play with her,” Matthew said. “It's entertaining and you never know what to expect.”

The last clause is apropos. Kim sometimes sails pretty close to the out of bounds markers, such as in the final round when she seemed to mouth the F-word after her tee shot on the 16th.

However, give me Christina Kim every time over the politically correct brigade.

Maybe then golf would become more entertaining.

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