Lion Kim set to tackle Augusta National for Masters

(WXYZ) - The name itself, Lion Kim, jumps off the golf bag.  Since Jun Min - his given name - was hard to pronounce, the nickname "Lion" stuck.

"My parents figured, there's a lot of Kims out there," said Kim, a senior at Michigan. "My dad wanted to make sure that my name stands out, out of all the Kim's."

Now the young man with the unique name is set to tee it up at one of the most unique stages in all of golf, Augusta National.

"It's absolutely beautiful," Kim said. "The view, the grass, everything's so perfect. There's so much history and tradition there and to be part of it, it's awesome."

Last summer, Kim entered the US Amateur Public Links championship. He cruised through qualifying and stroke play and then won five head-to-head matches.

"Next thing I knew, I'm one win away from getting an invite to the masters," Lion said.

Kim won the final match in 31 holes, punching his ticket to Augusta.

"It's a dream come true for me because I've always dreamt of playing the Masters one day and it's extra special because I'm currently a senior here at Michigan," Kim said. "I get to share it with the students, my coaches, my teammates, everybody here that's supported me."

He's said the maize and blue will be prominently on display throughout the tournament, where undoubtedly, he'll get a little starry-eyed.

"It's pretty humbling to realize that you'll be playing alongside, or in the same field as, players like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood.  Just to see them across the driving range and to realize that you'll be competing against them, it's truly awesome," Kim said.

There are a number of reasons Lion is eager to tee it up in Augusta next week.  Most notably: the weather.  It has been hovering in the 30s in Michigan, but more importantly, he wants to prove he deserves this spot and he belongs in the field.

"I'm no different than any of the guys out there," Kim said. "I'm competitive. I have a passion for this game. I want to do well.

"I'll be doing some practice rounds with some great players and hopefully I can hone in and learn some tips on how to approach certain holes."

As we've seen in The Masters over the years, even if you know exactly what you're doing, sometimes the course doesn't agree with you.

"There's no question you're going to hit a good shot but then it could end up off the green," Kim said. "Mentally you have to tell yourself that was a good shot and just move on."

Mental, as much as physical performance can earn you a trip to the Butler Cabin.

"At the end of the day I want to play well and make the cut and try to finish up as high as possible on the leaderboard. "
 

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