Korean will be tourney rookie

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Yong Lee was looking forward to having fellow Korean golfer Young Kim join him for the first time in the Regions Cup Matches, which begin today at Belle Meade Country Club in Thomson.

Yong Lee (left) and Young Kim were to both be in the Regions Cup Matches, but Lee is out because of a family emergency. 
  Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Yong Lee (left) and Young Kim were to both be in the Regions Cup Matches, but Lee is out because of a family emergency.

Lee has easily qualified the past three years for the matches that pit Georgia against South Carolina, and Kim made it for the first time this season.

But Kim will have to carry the Korean banner by himself. Lee had to pull out of the matches Friday because of a family medical emergency, he said.

"I'm so upset that I can't play," said Lee, whose mother is having eye surgery today.

Kim, who at 45 is five years younger than Lee, never earned enough points from top-20 finishes during the 10-event season to qualify for the matches until this year.

He easily made this year's eight-man regular division Georgia team thanks to his first career victory, in the City of Augusta Match Play Championship at Augusta Municipal Golf Course. That was worth 75 points; he ended up with 192, fourth best in the series.

This is the fifth year Kim, who took up golf in 1995 when he moved to Augusta, has played in Regions events. He's gotten better every year and expected to make the team this year for the first time.

Lee isn't worried about how Kim will do in today's four-ball matches and Sunday's singles as Georgia goes for its seventh victory in the past eight matches. A Georgia victory would tie the overall series at 11-11-1.

"He's a good player, so I don't mention to him anything," Lee said.

Kim will team up with Michael Phelps today against South Carolina's Kable Corley and Gary Bryant.

Phelps knows all about Kim's match-play prowess. Kim beat him 7 and 5 in the semifinals of the Match Play Championship.

The secret to Kim's victory in that event was his accuracy off the tee.

During Kim's semifinal victory in the City of Augusta Match Play Championship, Phelps asked, " 'Young, do you ever miss?' " Kim said.

Kim brings more than just his ability to the team. His outgoing personality "will definitely help out," McCook said.

Kim, who runs a gas station in Pumpkin Center, has an contagious enthusiasm for life and golf.

"I'm crazy about the game," he said.

"I got so popular," Kim said. "So many people I don't even know come up to me and say, 'Hi, Young Kim. What's up, Kim?' Even the young kids. The other day a 10-year-old comes up and says, 'Hey, Young Kim. How are you?' That's an incredible feeling."

Lee knows why his friend is so popular.

"First thing, he plays good golf," Lee said. "Second thing, he's got big mouth and is humorous."

Minutes later, during an interview with Kim and Lee at Jones Creek Golf Club, someone walked by and said 'Hey, Mr. Young, how are you doing?'

"See there?" Kim said. "Everyone knows."


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