Kim seeing instant results with new focus

Mindy Kim at No. 7 during the first round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – It’s been a few years, but Mindy Kim has seen success at Mission Hills. Kim is a local gal (she lives in nearby Diamond Bar) so it seems only fitting that her third stop in what’s shaping up to be a career-making season landed her at the Kraft Nabisco Championship this week.

As a junior golfer, Kim won the 2006 Mission Hills Desert Junior Classic. The course is stretched this week and the rough more penal, but it didn’t stop Kim from coming out of the gate with 1-under 71 Thursday in her first trip to this season-opening major.

Kim, a former star on the Futures Tour with three career victories, had never finished better than T-10 before the 2011 season. She opened her third year on the tour with a sixth-place finish at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup (donating her $25,000 to the Make A Wish Foundation of Central Florida) and followed with a T-7 at the Kia Classic leading up to the Kraft.

“I worked hard this off-season,” Kim said of back-to-back top 10s. “Whatever the results are, I know for a fact that I worked hard this off-season, so I think it’s kind of paying off.”

Kim, a new student with Ron Stockton, son of short-game guru Dave Stockton, has devoted extra time to her mental game. Together with a few short-game tweaks, Kim says a new attitude is responsible for lower scores.

“Whatever the scores are, I think I shouldn’t be so hard on myself on bad days, and on good days it’s great,” she said. “I have to mellow out a little bit.”

Mellow she did in Round 1, as three birdies just before the turn shot her up the early leaderboard. By day’s end, however, Kim had seen her share of the “boonies” thanks to a misbehaving driver.

“I made some great putts for pars, and I think I kind of kept it together, I guess,” Kim said after the round. Then it was off to the range for more work.

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