Originally created 08/08/03

Wet course works against defending champion



DUBLIN, Ohio -- Things weren't setting up right for Mi Hyun Kim as she defends her title at the Wendy's Championship for Children.

"I like a dry course and I like fast greens," Kim said. "This course is better for a longer hitter."

The course has taken so much rain lately that on Thursday, the day before the 54-hole tournament was to get under way, players were still awaiting word from LPGA Tour officials about whether they would be permitted to lift, clean and place their ball on the soggy fairways.

Kim held off fellow South Korean Hee-Won Han to win last year, her second title in as many weeks in Ohio. A week earlier, she beat Kelly Robbins down the stretch to win the Giant Eagle.

Kim ranks 121st on the tour in driving distance with a 243-yard average. That likely won't cut it at the 6,517-yard Tartan Fields Golf Club, lengthened by the heavy rains that have pounded the Midwest much of the spring and summer.

Only four of the top 10 players on the money list were on hand for the event, which has a purse of $1.1 million. Many players are taking time to rest after last week's British Open.

Juli Inkster, No. 4 on the earnings list, is teeing it up because she wants to take the next three weeks off. She said short hitters will be at a distinct disadvantage.

"Last year I hit a lot of 3-woods and 5-woods off the tee. This year on every hole but the par-3s I'm hitting a driver," Inkster said. "That tells you how long it's playing."

The 2002 tournament was played under hot, humid conditions and the course remained fast and hard.

"I looked at my notes from last year and I used a lot of short irons" on approach shots, Kim said. "This year, I'm hitting a lot of 7-woods, 5-woods and 5-irons in."

Kim has been held back by bad putting this season. She hasn't finished higher than a tie for third at the Kellogg-Keebler in her 17 starts.

"I have had a problem with my short game this year," she said. Kim is averaging just over 30 putts per round, 94th-best on tour.

Still, she is 24th on the money list and had made the cut in 61 consecutive starts until shooting two rounds of 74 to miss the cut at last week's British Open.

Kim walked into the interview room without a translator, without a caddie and without a relative. It was the first time she had ever met with U.S. reporters on her own.

"I tried to find a translator today but I couldn't find one," she said with a smile. She relied on note cards when making her general comments but answered questions in English without any difficulty.