Date: July 26, 2019
Author: Mark Hayes

Kim on wrong side of epic thriller

Grace Kim, while no longer a contender for the US Girls’ Amateur crown, remains one for the most polite person in golf mantle.

So when she couldn’t find the words to readily describe her 21-hole loss to American Brooke Seay in the round of 16 today, you knew something had happened at SentryWorld in Wisconsin.

Not that she had any acrimony whatsoever in the direction of her Californian opponent, but rather it was the sense that something had taken place that she hadn’t yet been able to wrap her head around.

Kim, the effervescent Sydneysider, had earlier rattled off a quality performance in her round of 32 match after trailing Chun-Wei Wu by two holes early before grinding down the Taiwanese youngster for a 3&2 win.

And she must have thought a good day was about to turn into a great one when Seay, trailing Kim 1-down, hit her approach just to the side of the 18th green and still 12m from the cup.

But the incoming Stanford freshman, perhaps inspired by a piece of brilliant caddying by her brother, calmly drilled the putt to extend the match.

“I was just kind of picturing a line,” said Seay, who had her younger brother Spencer on the bag.

“I wasn't thinking of distance at all. The only thing on my mind was make it. Spencer told me he would give me a puppy if I made it.

“That was just kind of unrelated, but it kind of loosened me up. I was a little surprised that it went in.”

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Perhaps not as surprised as Kim, the Avondale member who had just played 18 holes four under and without a bogey in a match of extreme quality.

“To be honest, I thought I had it,” Kim said.

“But Brooke played great golf – her wedge game and putting was unreal, we both played so well and there was only hole that was won that wasn’t won by a birdie (the short par-four fourth hole on which Seay made the match’s only bogey).

“She made that putt and I thought, `Are you kidding me?, we have to go down 19.

“Then I don’t really regret anything, because I played really well all day, but that was my chance because I had a six-foot right-to-left slider for birdie on the 19th, but I smashed it (through the break) and we had to keep going again.

“We made pars up the 20th, then she hit a nice tee shot into the (par-three) third (the 21st) and I really had to make mine from about 10 feet but left it short and low.

“She made hers (from about 1.5m) and that was it.

“I can’t be upset, it was just one of those things. She was really good.”

To her credit, the young American, remarkably playing the tournament for the sixth time, was full of praise for Kim.

“Honestly, Grace played amazing. That was probably the toughest match I've ever played,” Seay said.

“We were both just firing on all cylinders and didn't really make any mistakes.”

Kim, already at 18 a long-time New South Wales state team representative, remained upbeat about her stellar performance.

“I’m not disappointed, just maybe a little frustrated,” she reflected.

“I gained a lot of experience, it’s just my second time in American tournaments, so (while) it’s not as far as I wanted to go … I’m happy with way I played.”