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LPGA Tour Golf Schedule 2005

Christina Kim enjoys letting emotions show

As far as Christina Kim is concerned, those hand-held signs around golf courses that read "Quiet Please" or "Hush Y'all" -- as was the case this week at The Mitchell Company LPGA Tournament of Champions -- should be replaced by signs reading "PARTY!!!" Or at the very least, simply do away with the signs completely.

That's not to say Kim, who today reigns as the champion of the Tournament of Champions, has no respect for the game. But she is in favor of allowing your emotions to be as readable as a one-foot, straight-as-can-be putt. She is in favor of ditching the golf clap now and then for a hearty, "You go, girl!" from the gallery or a little dance after making a birdie.

"I have always been an extrovert. If I felt something, I expressed it," Kim said Sunday after her victory. "When I first started playing, it was anger a lot of times. I was angry a lot because I was a perfectionist. I still am. But as I've learned more shots and experienced more things -- just living life, learning lessons and not just about golf -- I've changed. I'm not angry anymore. I know there's more to life than making a birdie putt. I want to enjoy everything, and that includes golf."

It would be hard to find someone who enjoys their life, their livelihood and their experiences more than Kim. The 21-year-old has burst onto the LPGA scene in a big way. She picked up her first tour win last year and this year was perhaps the most recognizable and magnetic member of the winning U.S. Solheim Cup team. She pumped her fist, she laughed, she cried, she hugged everyone within 5-wood distance and she lifted the emotional level of a team that built itself on teamwork and emotion to a new level. In the process, she has gained many new fans.

Sunday, her fan club grew even larger. Wearing her signature Kangol cap -- this one bright red -- with a glittery red blouse, it was impossible to miss her on Magnolia Grove's Crossings Course. With each birdie, her smile became bigger, her red outfit became brighter and the gallery grew louder. When she tapped in for the par on the 18th green that assured her victory, she pumped her fist, danced, laughed, cried, waved, then repeated all those gestures and emotions again. And again.

At the awards ceremony, she laughed and cried and pumped her fist. As each emotion arose in her, she expressed it without filtering and without hesitation.

When she was younger and dreaming of such a day, she watched Tiger Woods win yet another U.S. Amateur title. She watched him give an emphatic fist pump after dropping in a birdie putt. It was at that moment she realized it was OK to be expressive.

"Watching him play, he was so exciting and has so much energy and emotion, and to me, that's what golf is all about," Kim said. "Why should you take any aspect of your life and subdue it? I don't want to do that. I want to enjoy everything about my life, and golf is a part of my life. There's no reason to hold back. I want to leave a lasting impression on people because they have left a lasting imprint on me.

"Golf is (my) work, but golf is a big part of my life, too. Why not take every moment and savor it? That's what I want to do. This is my work and the course is my office and I wouldn't want it to be someplace I'm not comfortable. And for me, being comfortable means expressing my emotions."

Sunday, it's hard to imagine there was a more comfortable person within 100 miles -- nor anyone as happy -- as Christina Kim.

November 15, 2005

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