For a moment on No. 18 at Tiburon Golf Club, those watching off the green were reminded of 2019 as defending champion Sei Young Kim nearly drained another long putt from just off the back left fringe, similar to her 25-foot putt on the 72nd hole last year. Kim said she also felt nostalgic throughout her first round, which propelled her to a 5-under 67 to sit in a tie for third at the CME Group Tour Championship.
“It feels very good [to be defending],” said Kim, who played alongside fellow Rolex Player of the Year Award contenders Inbee Park and Danielle Kang. “Because I play with Inbee and Danielle, and those are really good player and then, yeah, then we play in the warm weather and it feels really good. [Last year’s] final round I made a long putt last hole, so when I was walking down hole 18, I was reminded of that memory. I was like, ‘Oh, it's already one year ago.’ Feels like time goes by so fast.”
Since her victory, which also awarded her the largest winner’s check in women’s golf history of $1.5 million, the 27-year-old has won twice in the 2020 season, including her maiden major championship victory at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. With one more opportunity to win, Kim said she’s far from resting on her laurels and even though last year’s memories are great, it is a new year with new possibilities in December.
“I think pretty similar,” said Kim of this year’s course conditions. “Greens are softer. I think last night we got a little bit of rain, so the greens feel like a little softer than yesterday. But, yeah, everything is very similar.”