Kyung Kim is lucky to be at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup this week and it’s not because she beat out 68 other women in the Monday Qualifier.
It was September 16th, 2017, the first round of the Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout. She had one of the first tee times so she was en route to Mystic Creek Golf Course before the sun came up.
She was a mile from the course so she decided to turn off the GPS.
In the remote area of El Dorado, Arkansas, on an isolated road that leads to the course, Kim was going at a ‘decent pace’ and missed the final curve. She tried to swerve at the last minute, but drifted off the road and into a ditch.
Her airbag deployed and Kim blacked out for a moment.
“I think I was lucky," said Kim on Tuesday after registering at Wildfire Golf Club.
When she regained consciousness, her car was in a small ditch, surrounded by trees and bushes. Also, she had no cell phone service. Kim went into survival mode. She crawled into the back seat, rolled down the window and squeezed out of the car.
Without cell service, Kim began looking for help. She walked out in the middle of the road and was able to wave down another driver, who happened to be a volunteer for the tournament.
Kim was okay considering the circumstances. She had scratches on her legs from crawling free, was having trouble breathing and had an extremely stiff back and neck. Her Hyundai Sonata was totaled. The entire front was “smashed pretty good." Kim was fortunate.
An ambulance arrived and took her to the hospital for precautionary x-rays and, thankfully, rest was the only recommendation.
She didn’t play again until Stage II of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament but wasn’t truly ready. Kim decided to go through with it because she had already paid and made a plan. Miraculously, she advanced.
Kim is about 90 percent recovered from the accident at this point. She still suffers from pain in her back when she practices too much.
Kim will play predominantly on the Symetra Tour this year, but decided to give this week's qualifier a chance because she lives in nearby Chandler and historically excels at Longbow Golf Club. Ten years ago, she won the Heather Farr at the Mesa track and played well when the Symetra Tour hosted an event at Longbow.
Another miracle happened on Monday.
Things weren’t off to a great start. She made six straight pars to open her round and was feeling unlucky.
“I was in a divot, my balls were taking weird bounces off the fairways,” explained Kim. “I was like ‘today is not going so good, so let's just have fun’ and then it happened.”
She stepped to the tee at her seventh hole of the day with a 6-iron in hand and made a hole-in-one from 178 yards. It was her sixth career ace and exactly what she needed to kick-start the round.
After the ace, she made two more birdies early on the back nine to get to 4-under before a bogey on her 14th hole dropped her to 3-under. On her final hole, she drained an 8-footer for birdie to post a 68 - exactly what she needed to qualify.
“I’m very excited to play this week, it’s in my home state and not far from home,” said the always-smiling Kim. “If you don’t consider the U.S. Open’s, this is my first LPGA event. To get my game going and bounce back from the accident is awesome.”
Six months later, it’s a hole-in-one that earned her a spot in the Founders Cup.