Michael Kim Makes Run Near Top at U.S. Open
June 15, 2013
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ARDMORE, Pa. - Michael Kim (73-70-71 - 214, +4) birdied four of his first six holes on the back nine Saturday at the 2013 U.S. Open to move to as high as tied for third place and two shots out of the lead at one point at the Merion Golf Club's East Course. Kim eventually fell back seven spots and will head into Sunday's final round in 10th place five strokes behind third-round leader Phil Mickelson (67-72-70 - 209, -1), who is the only player in the field under par after three rounds.
"I kept looking at the leaderboard, not because I wanted to know how I was doing in the tournament, but it was so cool to see my name next to those names like Mickelson, Donald and Schwartzel," Kim said. "It was just an incredible feeling."
"It was a great day, and it's been a great week," Kim told Bob Costas in a post-round interview on NBC. "I'm just looking forward to tomorrow."
NBC's television coverage of Sunday's final round is scheduled to run from Noon - 7:30 p.m. ET. USOpen.com will stream live video of a marquee group from Noon - 7 p.m. ET, while ESPN Radio will handle the radio call from 2-8 p.m. ET.
Kim will play Sunday with Rickie Fowler and tee off at 2:36 p.m. ET, while Weaver will be paired with John Peterson and get started at 9:28 a.m. ET. All players will begin the final round from the first hole with the first tee time scheduled for 8:44 a.m. ET.
Kim, the 2012-13 national collegiate player of the year, captivated a world-wide audience Saturday when he made birdie putts on the 10th, 12th, 13th and 14th holes during his run, all par-fours other than the par-three 13th playing at a miniscule 98 yards. But much of the field, including Kim, struggled down the stretch. Kim played his final three holes in four-over par with bogeys on the par-four 16th and 18th sandwiching a double bogey on the par-three 17th that included a tee shot in the bunker and three putts.
"Yeah definitely," Kim said when asked whether nerves played a part in his final three holes. "I didn't feel that nervous, but I definitely think I was, looking back on it. Just a few loose swings and just a couple bad putts, and it is what it is."
Kim had eight pars and a bogey on the par-three third hole on the front nine of his third round on the course that played at par-70 and 6,933 yards Saturday.
Prior to his originally scheduled third round Saturday, Kim played the final seven holes of his second round after he was one of 68 players still on the golf course late Friday when second-round play was suspended due to darkness. Kim was tied for eighth and one-over par heading into the seven second-round holes he played Saturday. He began the stretch with bogeys on his first two holes on the par-five fourth and par-four fifth before righting the ship and making five consecutive pars to close out the round and start his third trip around Merion tied for 13th.
In addition to being in 10th place overall, Kim is the top amateur through three rounds among the four that made the cut to equal the most since the 2004 U.S. Open. The other amateurs of the 10 in the original 156-player field to make the cut were Kim's Cal teammate Michael Weaver (74-74-78 - 226, +16), Washington's Cheng-Tsung Pan (72-72-75 - 219, +5) and Ireland's Kevin Phelan (71-77-78 - 226, +16), who plays collegiately at North Florida. Pan is tied for 31st, while Weaver and Phelan are tied for 65th.
The last amateur to finish in the top 10 at the U.S. Open was Jim Simons in 1971 the last time the event was played at Merion.
"I didn't really know what to expect coming in [to the U.S. Open]," Kim told Costas during their post-round interview. "Obviously I wanted to make the cut. I thought that would be a pretty good week. I did that this morning, and it feels great."
"It was obviously a great day for Michael Kim today," head coach Steve Desimone said. "Anytime you're on the leaderboard after three rounds at the U.S. Open you are doing a lot of things right. It should be a fun day tomorrow."
Weaver (74-74-78 - 226, +16) waited for approximately 18 hours near the projected cut line following the conclusion of his second round Friday afternoon before finding out he was among a group of 18 players that tied for the final spot and made the cut by a single stroke. The cut included 73 players (top 60 plus ties after two rounds) that earned an opportunity to play in the final two rounds Saturday and Sunday.
Weaver struggled Saturday with an eight-over par round that included a triple bogey, seven bogeys and two birdies. After opening with a par on the par-four 11th, he bogeyed 12 before immediately answering with a birdie on 13. But he then bogeyed four of the next five holes (14, 15, 17, 18), all par-fours other than the par-three 17th. Weaver would make three straight pars before a triple bogey on four. He managed his second birdie of the round on the par-four eighth but made bogeys on the par-four sixth and par-three ninth.
"I struggled today," Weaver said. "I didn't do anything in particular too well." Despite his own struggles, Weaver was happy for Kim.
"It's pretty cool that Michael is in 10th place right now," Weaver said. "That's incredible. He's been playing very well this week. It would be awesome if he could finish it off tomorrow with a good round."
Max Homa (73-78 - 151) also played the first two rounds at the 2013 U.S. Open but did not make the cut and finished tied for 95th.
"It was a blast," Homa said of his experience. "I wouldn't trade it for anything else."
"I'm so proud of my teammates for playing so well on the biggest stage," Homa added after Kim and Weaver made the cut.
Homa, Kim and Weaver - all members of the 2012-13 Cal men's golf team - made history by becoming what is believed to be the first trio of players ever from the same collegiate team to play in the same U.S. Open.
Each member of the trio was instrumental in Cal's 2012-13 season when the Bears won 12 of 14 stroke-play tournaments to set a modern-era NCAA single-season win record previously established with the 10 victories recorded by the 1985-86 Oklahoma State team. Cal was No. 1 in the final 2012-13 team rankings released by both Golfweek and Golfstat after the NCAA Championship despite losing to Illinois in the NCAA semifinals.
"There's a lot of `Go Bears!' out there [today on the course]," Kim said during a post-round press conference when asked about the attention his performance at the U.S. Open has brought to the Cal men's golf program. "It was awesome to hear."