Stars of 2017 - I.K. Kim
At the start of the 2017 LPGA season I.K. Kim was best known to many for her unforgettable missed putt at the 2012 Kraft Nabisco Championship that denied her a first major victory.
If this famous missed tap-in measured more than a foot in distance then it was only by a matter of inches and yet a stroke that should have been forgotten amidst celebrations of a major breakthrough for Kim was still the first thing that came to mind when thinking about the South Korean. A superb 2017 season however has seen I.K. Kim emerge from the shadows of this missed opportunity in fine style.
Prior to this year the 29-year-old could boast a very decent LPGA record consisting of four career victories but in a period of little more than two months in 2017 Kim almost doubled her tally of triumphs, starting with a successful week at the ShopRite LPGA Classic in New Jersey back in June.
This was an event that attracted a lot of attention, some of it unwanted, following a controversial online poll that decided who would be filling one of the sponsor's invite spots but I.K. Kim's impressive performance ensured that the week would be remembered for much more than a voting drama.
Six weeks later Kim timed her sprint-finish to perfection at the Marathon Classic in Ohio, closing with a faultless final round of 63 that saw her charge across the finish line ahead of Lexi Thompson, another player that has enjoyed a stellar 2017 season.
The biggest and best week of the South Korean's year and indeed her career was still to come however. Two weeks on from her sixth LPGA triumph I.K. Kim produced a stunning exhibition of course management at Kingsbarns, one that saw her card just three bogeys in 72 holes of golf, to win the RICOH Women's British Open and finally enter the 'major winners' circle'.
With the major monkey now well and truly off her back there is little to stop a player of I.K. Kim's considerable talent going on to win many more times on the LPGA and perhaps winning more major championships. The endless production line of quality young golfers emerging on the LPGA has made it an incredibly competitive tour but Kim is now deservedly inside the top 10 in the Rolex Rankings and it would be no surprise at all to see her in a similar position in a year's time from now.