Sei Young Kim looking to go back-to-back at Atlanta Athletic Club
Good playing certainly makes for good photos, and Kim’s hoping there will be another nice one taken of her, trophy-in-hand, come Sunday.
One of the benefits of being a defending champion, certainly at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, is that your photo adorns a lot of different – and prominent – areas.
For Sei Young Kim, who captured her inaugural major championship at last year’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, it was not lost on her how exciting it is to see her face all over Atlanta Athletic Club.
The first thing she saw when she arrived at the Atlanta Athletic Club was a photo of her holding the trophy from 2020.
“I took a photo and I sent it to my family and friends,” said Kim. “They said, ‘Wow, awesome.’”
Kim, a 12-time LPGA Tour winner, won last year’s Championship by five shots over Inbee Park. She shot a tournament-best 63 on Sunday at Aronimink Golf Club to run away with the trophy – her maiden major title.
She’s now looking to defend her title and the first person to do so since Inbee Park won three in a row from 2013-15.
“I feel so excited to be the first defending champion of a major tournament,” said Kim. “I checked out the course already, but the course is really amazing.”
Kim said Aronimink was a little longer than Atlanta Athletic Club. But, with the rain that’s fallen over the last few days in the Atlanta area, AAC is set to play long this week, too. Kim also noticed there were more bunkers at AAC, so ball-striking would be at a premium this week.
She said her game is, overall, “pretty solid” right now. She has missed just one cut this season and has three top-10 finishes. She finished tied for third and tied for 16th, respectively, at the previous two majors on the schedule this season.
“I’m just trying to focus on mentally staying calm,” she said.
Kim, certainly, was very calm in 2020 – she didn’t have any nerves to navigate late Sunday even as she was looking to win her first major.
Kim led by two after 54 holes but put the pedal down in the final round and ripped away from the field after going 3-under in the first nine holes. She added four more birdies on the back nine, and no one got close as Kim put on a clinic at Aronimink.
As she looks ahead to this year’s Championship, she said she recalled how special her 2020 memory was, and how complete a performance she put on. In most tournaments, she said, she has regrets. Either she could have made a better choice or hit better shots.
“But after KPMG (in 2020), it wasn’t like that,” said Kim. “I thought that tournament was the first perfect game for myself. I think it was really good playing last year.”