Epson Tour graduate Gina Kim is right in the mix through 36 holes at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, carding an impressive 2-under 69 on Friday that saw her make three bogeys and a whopping five birdies, including three in a five-hole stretch from holes 11 to 15. It’s just her fourth round in the 60s of the 2023 LPGA Tour season and her lowest score since her final-round 67 at the JM Eagle LA Championship presented by Plastpro, which is also the last event in which she made the cut. Kim hasn’t played the weekend once in her last four starts, carding rounds in the low-to-mid 70s and even one round in the 80s, an 82 in the first round of the Mizuho Americas Open. While it’s been rough, the ever-positive Kim has kept her chin up, knowing that statistically, the odds had to start leaning in her favor sooner or later. What a week for them to do so.
“Obviously, I've been going through a rough patch. I've been trying to figure out my game. I brought my coach with me this week. He's been taking a look at my game, and I think it's just a matter of reframing the perspective,” said Kim, who only hit three fairways on Friday. “Last year I barely got into the field here, and to be able to play a major like this at a course like this, I was really grateful. I think just having an attitude of gratitude and grinding it out because it can't be a shootout here. Pars are birdies, basically. I knew if I took my time and stuck to my routine, things would turn out okay.”
Kim first earned LPGA Tour membership for the 2022 season after finishing in the top 45 and ties at LPGA Q-Series but spent much of last season playing on the Epson Tour, finishing eighth in the Race for the Card with one victory at the Inova Mission Inn Resort & Club Championship and three additional top-10 finishes. The season on the LPGA Tour has seen the 23-year-old face a lot of adversity as she’s missed five cuts in nine total starts, recording a season-best finish of T17 at the JM Eagle LA Championship, but Kim hasn’t let her poor play bog her down. Instead, she’s dug deep and found something that’s working at Baltusrol Golf Club’s Lower Course, something that she will carry with her as she contends for a major championship title over the weekend in Springfield, N.J.
“There were times where I questioned myself and wondered, will I be able to make a cut out here or even just put myself in contention. After today especially, even though my shots weren't as great, to see myself be able to make up even in the worst situation possible, I think that gave me a lot of confidence that it doesn't have to be perfect. You've just got to make a score and put it on the scorecard,” Kim said. “I'm already honored to even get to play in this event, especially at a place like Baltusrol. It definitely feels a little weird knowing that I'm kind of in the mix up there, but my first goal was just to make the cut first after the past few weeks.
“It's nice to see one thing get checked off the list. I don't think I'm going to have too many expectations. I think I'm going to keep working on my routine, keep staying committed to it, and we'll see how it turns out.”