Started with a bang,” CNMI golfer Leina Kim wrote on her Facebook wall.
She did, without a doubt.
Kim kicked off the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference with record-breaking scores at the Desert Hawk Golf Course in Pueblo West, Colorado last weekend. The RMAC Rookie and Golfer of the Year (2012-2013 season) finished the opening round of the first tournament of RMAC, a collegiate athletic conference that participates in NCAA Division II, with a 1-over par 73 to beat the record of fellow ThunderWolves Dominique Dinallo (74) and place fourth out of more than 70 players.
Kim’s 73 was later eclipsed by the 72 of teammate Michaela Breit and together with the 78 and 82 of Julie Sanchez and Dinallo, respectively, CSU-Pueblo clung to a one-stroke lead against West Texas A& M, 305-306.
Though her record was quickly shattered by her teammate and she was three shots behind Round 1 leader Judy Papenfus (70) of West Texas A& M, Kim, in a message to Saipan Tribune yesterday, said she did not lose hope going into the second and final round played last Sunday (Monday on Saipan).
“After the first round, I was still feeling confident. I still had a lot of fight in me to win the tournament,” the CSU-Pueblo prized-find golfer said.
“Our new coach, Rick (Ewing), came up to me before the second round started and said ‘69?’ I was a little confused at first and said, ‘what?’ He goes, ‘are you going to shoot 69?’ I said, ‘sure’ without really thinking about it,” the sophomore added.
Kim went on to break the school mark anew, as she indeed carded an impressive 3-under par 69, highlighted by three birdies and 15 pars. She clinched the new school record (in a single game) with a par on the 158-yard par 3 hole No. 14.
“On hole No. 14, I hit my 6 iron straight to the sand trap. I was thinking that I needed to get that up and down to save par. As soon as that ball landed about 6 feet by the hole I knew I had a chance. Right when that ball rolled in, I was completely relieved and excited to finish the round,” said Kim, who went on to lift CSU-Pueblo to victory against 14 other teams in RMAC’s opening tournament.
Kim, who had five birdies and 28 pars in two rounds, also topped the first competition of the season with her 2-under par 142, beating West Texas A& M’s Glory Janghthongsiri (144, 73 and 71) and Round 1 leader Papenfus (145, 70 and 75). Completing the Top 5 were Newman’s Kendall Anderson (146) and Breit (147).
In the team standings, Kim’s CSU-Pueblo totaled 607 (305 and 302) to save a one-stroke win versus West Texas A& M. Newman University came in at third with its 616, followed by Adams State University (632) and Colorado Mesa University (644).
With her victory last weekend, Kim lived up to expectations, as she was earlier chosen as RMAC Preaseason Golfer of the Year.
“It felt great setting a new school record, it gives me and all my teammates a goal (beat the record) in our upcoming tournaments,” said Kim, who will lead the ThunderWolves in their second tournament on Sept. 16 and 17 at Black Hill State in Spearfish, South Dakota.