Cal's Kim low amateur at U.S. Open, tied for 17th on final leaderboard
ARDMORE, Pa. - Michael Kim (73-70-71-76 - 290, +4) finished his outstanding run at the 2013 U.S. Open on Sunday as the low amateur, tying for 17th place on the final leaderboard at the Merion Golf Club's East Course. Kim's finish was the fifth-best by an amateur at the U.S. Open in the last 30 years.
"That feels awesome," Kim said about being the low amateur. "I had a difficult ending, but the overall week it's just an incredible experience."
"This was just phenomenal stuff," head coach Steve Desimone said. "In all honesty, it does not surprise me in the least. He was the No. 1 collegiate player in the country. He just does so many things right and he continues to do it. We saw it again. I'm happy for him. He's worked so hard and is very deserving. We're seeing the beginnings of an absolutely phenomenal career. I'm just glad to be a part of it."
Kim started the day tied for 10th and rose to as high as tied for sixth at one point after a birdie on the par-four seventh hole moved him back to five-over for the tournament and one-over for the day following earlier bogeys on the par-three third and par-four fifth. He stayed there with pars on the par-four eighth and par-four ninth to finish the front nine in one-over.
Kim had risen to as high as tied for third on the leaderboard Saturday when he birdied four of the first six holes on the back nine.
"I could have stared at that leaderboard for hours on end and wouldn't have stopped," Kim said after Sunday's final round.
But he was unable to repeat the back nine magic Sunday when he played the same six-hole stretch in two-over with a bogey on the par-four 10th and a double bogey on the par-four 11th before a birdie on the par-three 13th. Kim managed to stay at three-over for the day and seven-over for the tournament until a bogey on the par-four 16th and a double bogey on the par-four 18th gave him his final round score of six-over par-76 on the course that played at 6,869 yards Sunday.
"It was super hard, but the U.S. Open is known for being the toughest test," Kim said when asked about the course setup at Merion. "It was really hard but fun at the same time."
"As you grow into being a major player you always have questions along the way whether you really belong," Desimone said. "But those questions take care of themselves as you have one great finish after another, and that's where Michael is. His collective body of work is stunning and what it says is that a great player is emerging from the college and amateur ranks, and someday he's going to be one of the best players on tour."
Justin Rose (71-69-71-70 - 281, +1) won his first major by two strokes over Jason Day (70-74-68-71 - 283, +3) and Phil Mickelson (67-72-70-74 - 283, +3). Playing in the final group, third-round leader Mickelson stayed in contention until the final hole when he needed a birdie to force a playoff but instead ended his round with a bogey. Kim was one of four amateurs to make the cut that equaled the most since the 2004 U.S. Open, with one of the others Kim's Cal teammate Michael Weaver (74-74-78-75 - 301, +21).
Weaver, who also played at the Masters in 2013, closed out his first appearance at the U.S. Open and second major with a five-over par round Sunday that included four birdies, seven bogeys and a double bogey. He started strong with birdies on the par-five second and par-three third holes before making three consecutive bogeys on the par-five fourth and par-four fifth and sixth. He had another bogey on the par-four eighth to finish the front nine in two-over par. He started the back nine with a birdie on the 10th hole and had another on the 14th, both par-fours, but also had bogeys on the par-four 11th, par-three 17th and par-four 18th, as well as a double bogey on the par-four 12th.
"Overall it was a great week," Weaver said. "I'm glad to have made the cut. I would have liked to play a little better over the weekend and move up the leaderboard, but I can't be disappointed with my play since it's my first U.S. Open. There is a lot I can take from this week going forward to help me improve my game."
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.
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.
"As the profile of the program rises it's just so much more important in terms of recruiting, fundraising and what we have to do not just to maintain the program at the level that we have but to grow it," Desimone said. "We want to have more Michael Kim's, more Michael Weaver's and more>Max Homa's. We want to identify the best student-athletes in the country that want the challenge of Cal. This tells them that they can be successful at both school and golf. Not only can they succeed, but they can succeed at the highest levels."
Each member of the trio was instrumental in Cal's 2012-13 season when the Golden 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.