A Lim Kim swung her 5-iron on the 178-yard, par-3 16th at Champions Golf Club and slid the club down through her fingers. Then looked away and took two steps to her right. She would look back and watch it trickle to within about four feet of the hole. Then nodded and picked up her tee. She’d then bundle up in her white coat on this brisk December Monday in Houston and wait for the rest of her group to hit.
Down two strokes with three holes left for her to play in the final round of her first U.S. Women’s Open, Kim neither hooted nor hollered after her tee shot, which she would clean up for a birdie 2. She just heated up.
“Just act like you’ve done it before. Just act like you’ve done it before,” analyst Paige Mackenzie during Golf Channel’s broadcast.
“I think this is one of the coolest iron shots you’ll ever see, just by the nonchalance of it,” analyst Brandel Chamblee said on Golf Channel’s Golf Central. “That’s top-tier talent, that’s top-tier confidence, that’s also top-tier relaxed. She didn’t watch it with the sort of scrutiny that you would expect.”
One of the coolest iron shots you’ll ever see became one of three of the coolest irons you’ll ever see.
Hole 17, a 393-yard par-4. After a hybrid tee shot into the fairway, Kim hit the approach to within about two feet. She had swung her 8-iron, watched her ball, then looked down. Only as she started walking to the green would she give a thumb’s up. Kim would make the birdie putt.
Hole 18, a 381-yard par-4. After a 3-wood tee shot into the fairway, Kim hit the approach to within about six feet. She had swung her pitching wedge, slid the club down her hands, then looked down. Kim would make that birdie putt, too.
Except then, she fist-pumped. Three holes. Three cool iron shots. Three birdies. One U.S. Women’s Open title. No one behind her would catch her.
“Birdied the last three holes to win the U.S. Women’s Open,” Chamblee said on Golf Central. “I don’t think that’s ever been done. Certainly I’ve never seen anybody do it more beautifully.”
On each of the three holes, Kim said she knew where she was on the leaderboard. She neither hooted nor hollered. She just heated up.
“Yeah, I’ve been eyeing the leaderboard throughout the round, and I knew how many shots I was back,” Kim said. “That’s probably the reason why I tried to hit more aggressive, tried to more attack the pins.”