Kim patiently awaiting first major title

I.K. Kim of South Korea, acknowledges applause from the gallery before teeing off during the second round of the LPGA State Farm Classic.

I.K. Kim of South Korea, acknowledges applause from the gallery before teeing off during the second round of the LPGA State Farm Classic.

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – I.K. Kim’s name doesn’t spring to mind when casual golf fans ponder their favorites at the majors. But it should.

The diminutive Korean takes her machine-like precision to the game’s biggest stages and puts herself in contention on a regular basis. Kim hasn’t missed the cut at a major since the 2008 LPGA Championship. Since then she’s had eight top-10 finishes in 13 championships. She has finished outside the top 20 only twice. She tied for third last year at Birkdale.

“Tough courses fit my eye better and are more interesting to me,” said Kim, No. 7 in the Rolex Rankings.

Kim’s steady game should suit a demanding track such as Carnoustie, which the ladies are playing for the first time at the Ricoh Women’s British Open. They’ll play it as a par 72, with the 17th playing as a 433-yard par 5.

“You can’t just come out and hang around,” said Kim, whose English gets considerably better every year she’s on tour. “It’s not just a putting contest. It’s the whole package.”

Kim, 23, enjoys links golf as long as it doesn’t rain. (Don’t we all?) There’s a 70 percent chance of it Thursday. She offers good perspective, though, for days when it’s less than ideal in Scotland: How many millions of people would like to come out and play?

For Kim, a three-time winner on the LPGA, it’s only a matter of time before the pieces fall together at a major. If she’s at all concerned about winning, she hides it well. Now is not the time to think big-picture, Kim said. Focus on the shot that’s in front of you.

“I’m going to play the British Open for the next 10 years, if I’m available,” she said.

Can’t imagine what else she’d rather be doing.

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