To the victors go the spoils and PGA TOUR veteran Justin Rose certainly got those on Sunday when he won his first major championship at the 113th U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, PA. But Rose is not the only one basking in the glow of a great week at Merion. Cal junior Michael Kim may not have won the U.S. Open Golf Championship but he came away with a lot of confidence in his game, a glimpse into his professional future, and the honor of being the low amateur at the U.S. Open.
Kim shot a final round 76 (+6) on Sunday and ended the tournament with a 72-hole score of 290 (+10), nine shots behind the winner. Kim won low amateur honors by five shots over Washington's Cheng-Tsung Pan and finished tied for 17th in the tournament.
Kim started the day tied for 10th and began climbing up the leaderboard while playing the front nine. He climbed to sixth place after making birdie on the 7th hole and played the front nine at a more than respectable one-over par on the tough Merion layout.
"It was great [but] it was super hard," said Kim of the USGA's layout of Merion Golf Club at his post-round press conference. "The U.S. Open is known for being the toughest test."
The tough test got even more difficult for Kim on the back nine, just as it did for a lot of the other players in the field. While Rose, Phil Mickelson, Jason Day, and Hunter Mahan began to separate themselves as the primary contenders late in the day, Kim fell back, unable to repeat his four-birdie back nine from Saturday's third round. A bogey at the 10th and a double bogey at the 11th moved Kim to 8-over par and out of contention. He managed to birdie the par-3 13th hole, but shot 3-over par over the final five holes for a 76.
Kim may have been a little disappointed at the way his U.S. Open ended, but he could not help but be happy with his performance as a whole at Merion.
As the low amateur, Kim (far right) got to receive his medal alongside U.S. Open winner Justin Rose (holding trophy) and runner-up Jason Day.
"My game isn't too far away [from turning pro]," said Kim, who was this year's Pac-12 men's golfer of the year and Cal's first national player of the year (Golfweek/Sagarin, Haskins Award, Jack Nicklaus Award, Golfstat Cup). "I think I can get a lot of confidence from that. I beat a ton of great players out here."
Kim's was the most compelling, but not the lone story for Cal men's golf at the 2013 U.S. Open. Along with Kim, Cal teammates Max Homa and Michael Weaver were also in the 156-player field. It is believed to be the first time that three players from the same collegiate team have played in the same U.S. Open. Weaver made the cut and shot a final round 75 to finish in 64th place. Homa shot 11-over par in the first two rounds, missing the cut by three shots.
Hole on you Bears!