Passing up the tail end of her final high school season to explore grander golfing pursuits worked out just fine for Kim Shin.
The recent Shorewood graduate earned a spot in this week’s 59th U.S. Women’s Open in South Hadley, Mass., with her top-seven finish at a sectional qualifier last week in Southern California.
Shin, 18, is the only Open qualifier from Washington state. She joins 14 other amateurs and several teenagers in the 156-player field.
“I guess I’m nervous and excited at the same time,” Shin said of competing alongside the top golfers in the world.
Shin finished in a three-way tie for third with a 2-over-par 146 at the June 22 qualifying tournament at San Gabriel Country Club. Four of the seven qualifiers were amateurs.
“There were a lot of good players. I thought I’d need to have a better score,” said Shin, who missed her commencement ceremonies to take part in the qualifier.
“The course was pretty tight. The greens were all surrounded by bunkers and the rough was real thick.”
Through the first 18 holes, Shin sat a few shots back of the leaders at 3-over.
“When we made the turn, I saw there were a few 72s,” Shin said. “I knew I’d have to shoot really good to make up for it.”
Shin’s second round included four birdies, compared to one during the first round.
“I hit my irons better, but I was struggling with my putting both rounds,” said Shin, who advanced to the sectional tournament by winning a local qualifier May 18 at Trophy Lake in Port Orchard.
Because the Trophy Lake tournament fell on the same day as the second round of the Northwest District 4A championships, Shin missed out on the chance to secure a fourth trip to the high school state tournament.
Shin won the 2003 Class 4A state tournament in a four-hole playoff, placed second at state as a sophomore and fourth as a freshman. Last November she accepted a full-ride scholarship offer from the University of Washington.
The toughest part of the San Gabriel sectional for Shin came after her scores were reported. As the first pair to tee off, Shin and her playing partner had to wait for the rest of the field to finish.
“We played fast,” Shin said. “As people came in I realized I had a shot. It started to sink in a little. It was exciting to know I’d qualified.”
Shin’s parents made the trip to California and her older brother is accompanying her to the Open. The siblings flew east Sunday and Shin played practice rounds Monday through Wednesday at Orchards Golf Club.
Championship play began Thursday and runs through Sunday. After today’s second round, the field will be trimmed.
“Making the cut is my first goal,” Shin said. “That would be good for me.”