Kim takes medalist honors at U.S. Women's Am

Hyo-Joo Kim watches her tee shot at No. 17 during the second round of stroke play at the 2012 U. S. Women's Amateur Championship at The Country Club in Cleveland. Kim posted a second consecutive 68.

CLEVELAND – Hyo-Joo Kim doesn’t speak English. Golf is a global game, particularly on the LPGA, so this is nothing new. But here at the U.S. Women’s Amateur, Kim, a South Korean, isn’t traveling with an agent or an interpreter, just her dad. So when she walked out of the scoring tent Tuesday afternoon leading stroke-play qualifying, there was a bit of concern on the part of your intrepid reporter.

On Day 1, the USGA had enlisted the help of Princeton’s Kelly Shon to interpret after her opening 4-under 68. Shon did a fine job, but she was nowhere to be found when Kim put the finishing touches on another 68.

Kim and her father enlisted the help of junior Karen Chung, who was on the practice putting green at the time. Chung cheerfully walked over to the side of the green and helped clear up a few details.

Kim, 17, will be making her professional debut in October at the LPGA KEB HanaBank Championship. She plans to play two years on the Korean LPGA before trying the LPGA. She already has won on the KLPGA and Japan LPGA and tied for fourth two weeks ago at the Evian Masters. She tied for 12th in her only other LPGA event, the Lotte Championship in Hawaii.

This marks Kim’s first USGA championship, and her last as an amateur. She has only played in one other match-play event (in middle school) but is ready for a fun week.

A few minutes into the interview, Chung’s mother said a few things in Korean to her daughter and Kim’s father. Chung then said she had to go: “I’m on the tee.”

Completely startled, this scribe thanked Chung profusely for her time and pulled out a tee sheet. Sure enough, Chung was set to tee off in 10 minutes.

Mercifully Chung got off to a good start, shooting 2 under on the front nine and missed an enormous playoff by one shot. But what a testament to this young player, who agreed to help out a fellow competitor (who wound up winning medalist honors) moments before starting her second round. It says a lot about the kind of folks who play this great game.

Thankfully, Mrs. Chung was looking at her watch.

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