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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Thursday, May 26, 2005

Kim sisters set for busy summer

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By Bill Kwon

Christine and Kimberly Kim were arguably the best sister act in local golf in 2004. This year, there is nothing to argue about.

Christine Kim, a junior at Waiakea High School, captured the girls state golf championship this month.

Christie Wilson • The Honolulu Advertiser

Five days after Christine, a junior at Waiakea High School, won the state high school girls title, 13-year-old Kimberly earned medalist honors in the local qualifier of the U.S. Women's Open.

And you ain't seen nothing yet from the Kim sisters, who haven't shown the slightest hint of sibling rivalry despite their successes.

"Some people tell me, 'You let your younger sister beat you?' But it doesn't bother me, as long as one of us does well, I'm happy," Christine said. "We're totally opposite in everything we do. I think that's what makes us so close."

"We were always close to each other, always helped each other ever since we were small," added Kimberly, an eighth-grader at Waiakea Intermediate.

They have always rooted for each other, according to their parents, Young Soo and Arlene Kim of Pahoa.

If anything, the sisters will be rooting even harder and getting even closer next year when they will be high school teammates for the first time.

"I can't wait to play be on the same team with my sister," said Kimberly, who's in Scottsdale, Ariz., for the prestigious 54-hole Thunderbird International Junior Tournament beginning tomorrow.

Christine, who led the Waiakea girls to their third straight state championship, feels the same way.

"I am really happy that my team won this year, and I hope that we can win again next year with my sister coming up and joining us. I am excited that we will be on the same team."

For now, Kimberly is in her second week of missing school after getting a surprise invitation to the Thunderbird International, one of the major American Junior Golf Association tournaments of the year.

She accepted an invitation to play only in the Scott Robertson Memorial Tournament in Roanoke, Va., several months ago. She finished 20th in that event for girls 15 to 18 years old.

Then last month she got an invitation to play the Thunderbird International, an event featuring the leading junior golfers in the world.

"I never expected it," said the girls' father. "The Thunderbird and the Polo Classic are the best two AJGA tournaments. Kimberly is ranked around 60th, so I was surprised she was invited."

But it has been one surprise after another for the Kim family, such as when Christine won the state title on Maui.

"Winning was really a surprise. I didn't expect it," she said, adding that it probably was even more unexpected for her father. "I don't think he thought I was going to win."

Kimberly also was surprised by her 1-over-par 73 in the U.S. Women's Open local qualifier at the Ko Olina Golf Club the Monday after her sister's state win. "I never broke 80 before at the course," she said.

Winning, however, is nothing new for the 5-foot-4 Kimberly, who can hit her drives 260 yards. She won the Callaway Junior World girls' 11-12 title last July in San Diego and also won an AJGA event in Pasco, Wash., against older competition.

"I hope one day I can see my sister play in the U.S. Open," Christine said.

It might be sooner than she thinks. Kimberly returns next Wednesday for the final four days of school and the U.S. Women's Open sectional qualifier on June 13 at Ko Olina.

Kimberly also will try to qualify for the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship, the Westfield Junior PGA Championship, U.S. Girls Junior and U.S. Women's Amateur championships. She will play in the Junior World if she doesn't qualify for the WAPL or the PGA Westfield, which are all held the same week.

Father Young Soo wants Christine to play in the Junior World, which is heavily attended by college coaches scouting the talent. It is where Kamehameha Schools senior Mari Chun won the girls' 15-18 title that led to a full golf scholarship at Stanford.

It all means a busy summer for the Kim sisters before they don Waiakea's school colors on the golf course.

"With all the tournaments, we will be gone whole July and early August," said Young Soo, a Big Island orchid grower. "It's expensive, but they're good. I've got to support them."

He credits Kevin Hayashi, Mauna Kea's teaching pro, for their improved golf game.

"He has done so much for them, especially the mental aspect of their game," the father said.

The girls take lessons from Hayashi on Mondays in Hilo and Saturdays on the Kona side of the Big Island.

"I'm hitting the ball more consistent and my putting has improved — except for last week," Kimberly said. "He makes us think more positive."

Bill Kwon can be reached at bkwon@aloha.net.