Riding off into the sunset is never easy, but for Lauren Kim, playing her last round of competitive golf at Highland Meadows Golf Club in the Dana Open presented by Marathon made her final moment as a professional golfer that much more special. In 2015, after the Stanford Cardinals won the NCAA Divison I National Championship at Concession, Kim was selected by head coach Anne Walker as the recipient of the Dana Open sponsor’s exemption traditionally given to a member of the winning team. Now, as the sun dipped below the horizon in Sylvania, Ohio, Kim officially said goodbye to her competitive golf career, a bittersweet moment for the 27-year-old.
“The last two days were) a little bit surreal in a certain way,” said Kim of her last 36 holes on the LPGA Tour. “Marathon was the first LPGA event I ever played in. It was the summer after my junior year, after we won the national championship. It's kind of weird that it started here and then now is ending here. Pretty special. I saw Judd (Silverman the tournament director) on the course out there today and it just feels full circle, which I'm really happy about. I think there are many ways that you can end a career, and this is kind of a sweet way to do it.”
Kim is currently pursuing a master’s degree at the prestigious Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and had to miss a few classes this week to be able to tee it up but her professors didn’t seem to mind. You only get to retire once, and while the announcement was made weeks ago, Kim wanted to soak in the moment and play one last round inside the ropes, surrounded by her Tour friends who made sure to celebrate her Thursday evening and let Kim know how much she’ll be missed by her LPGA family.
“I don't know how involved with golf I'll be in the near future, but we'll see. I'm trying to enjoy being a normal person and the mental freedom that comes along with retiring. It's weird to say retiring. I don't think it's settled in yet that it's true retirement,” said Kim. “I think the biggest thing I'll miss is my friends. I wouldn't have been out here for six years I don't think if it weren't for them. We took a picture (last night) where they all held me up. It's emotional because it represents how I feel like they've been in my life the last six years, just supporting me. I really truly would not have played for this long if it weren't for them.”