Catching up with '13 Haskins winner Michael Kim
This time last year, Michael Kim was going to be a junior at California. He had just secured the 2013 Haskins and Jack Nicklaus Awards after winning a school-record four times in a season with the Bears, and helped lead the team to 12 of 14 stroke-play titles.
Midway through the college season in December, Kim decided to turn professional after earning status on the Web.com Tour through Q-school. In six events on the Web.com Tour, Kim has made half of his cuts earning a little less than $20,000. His best finish came at the Cleveland Open (T-10). He also had two sponsor exemptions on the PGA Tour at the Farmers Insurance Open and the Memorial Tournament, but missed the cut at both tournaments.
He now lives in Houston with his brother and practices out of the Golf Club of Houston – where the PGA Tour's Shell Houston Open is held.
Golfweek caught up with Kim as he prepares for the Web.com Tour’s Nova Scotia Open in Halifax:
Q: After leaving school in the middle of the season, did you keep in touch with the guys back at California? How much did you want to be at NCAAs in May and go for that National Championship?
A: "Yeah, I stayed in touch with most of the guys, texting, and tweeting and such back and forth. I think during our time at Berkeley, after all the good and bad that we went through, we definitely made a strong bond with each other. When the team came to College Station for the Texas A&M tournament, it was only about an hour and a half from Houston where I'm living now, I went up during the practice round and actually played a round with some of the guys, and had a blast, just like the old times, even though it hadn't been so long.
I definitely wanted to be at NCAAs. I think not winning that championship will always sting whenever the tournament comes around because I know how strong of a team we had during the time I was there and how close we really were to winning that ring. To see them miss match play was really tough because I know how hard they worked at it and how much they wanted that ring, and just watching from the sideline, I wish I could have turned amateur for just that one week somehow and try and make a difference. It also doesn't help that it was televised so I can watch Alabama win another one, which is great, I'm great friends with all those guys on that team, but it really does sting."
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Q: How big of an adjustment was it going from college to the pro ranks, especially in the middle of the season?
A: "There was definitely a little bit of an adjustment, especially in the middle of the college season, which I didn't think about coming into the year, but it was something I had been dreaming and thinking about (turning pro), more so, since I went to college so it didn't feel like a complete shock. Not practicing with the guys all the time I think was the hardest thing. It was so easy to get a short game contest going or a putting match back at school, but in Houston, there aren't too many golfers to practice with day in and day out. But there are benefits, with the amount of time I have compared to when I was at school has been way different. I can focus even more on getting stronger and have gained about 15 pounds since leaving college and picked up a little bit of distance."
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Q: On a scale of 1-10, rate your performance thus far as a pro? Why?
A: "Maybe a 7. I definitely feel like I could have and can do better, but I was really struggling with my swing, especially my driver for a couple months during January, February and even the beginning of March, but it's finally starting to get back to what it used to be like. And I would have liked to play better with the sponsor exemptions that I have been fortunate enough to get, but what has happened in the past is in the past, so I can only look to keep on improving and move up on the Web.com Tour money list and try and get that PGA tour card for next season."
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Q: Has anyone on Tour take you under his wing and/or given you advice? If so, what kind of advice?
A: Honestly, not yet. I've got to know some of the older guys on tour and they have given me some advice here and there, to try and take care of my body as much as possible, just keeping that mental and physical endurance up for the whole season, because it is a grind and I am playing more than I used to in college.
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Q: With that said, what are you looking forward to in this second half of the season? Maybe something you are working on with your game?
A: I'm really looking forward to this second half of the season. I really haven't played that great during the first half. My swing is starting to turn around and I can feel a good stretch coming. Hopefully it starts this week and I can keep it going until the rest of the year.