If every golfer was as candid and effusive as Christina Kim, the sport would be much more popular.
Just one problem: Golf chews up and spits out those who run hot and cold. Flat-liners are best suited to long, prosperous careers. Kim is anything but.
At age 20, she won her first LPGA event and became the youngest woman to earn $1 million. Embracing the spotlight made her a natural for Solheim Cup competition, where she went 6-2-2.
On her way, she quickly won a legion of fans with her flamboyant personality, quick smile, and outrageous sense of humor. She sometimes said the “wrong” thing, but her willingness to do so only added to her appeal. Anyone who didn’t laugh when Kim tweeted that Australian Tammie Durdin was “slower than evolution,” just didn’t get it.
In recent years, however, Kim’s game has faded, and the native of northern California, now 28, has suffered with severe depression and thoughts of suicide.
As always, Kim has been open about her troubles. In July she addressed them in a brilliantly-written, lengthy, searing, sad, and sometimes-hilarious essay on her blog, The Christina Kim,
“For me it was very therapeutic and it was a means for me to let my fans know,” Kim said Thursday after firing a 66 in the opening round of the Kingsmill Championship. “I’m not happy right now and asking for help is impossible. I can’t ask for help, you know. I always want to try and help others, see what I can do to help the LPGA or my fellow players or, you know, give 10 bucks to the guy on the street, whatever it is. It’s hard for me to ask for help.”
Kim’s play on Thursday came from out of nowhere. She has dropped to No. 179 in the world, missing the cut in 11 of 18 events this year and finishing no better than a T49 at the ShopRite in June. Kim shot an even-par 71 on Friday and is seven strokes behind leader Jiyai Shin, a positive, steady round as she tries to find her game.
In her typical humor, Kim remembers when Kingsmill went from hosting a PGA Tour event to one on the LPGA Tour. The shift came in 2003, Kim’s rookie year.
“The volunteers just came off the PGA Tour the year before and they were – obviously we’ve got Fort Eustis down the road – but they were like almost militant with, you know, ‘Stop in the name of the LPGA,’” Kim said. “They were great at what they did. It’s nice to come to, I’m sorry, I digress.”
Fans hope Kim will continue to digress and to find happiness, regardless of the status of her game.