By Andrew Both
(Reuters) – Kim In-kyung will put her old putter back in the bag for this week’s ANA Inspiration tournament after being reunited with the stolen club last week.
The putter was one of several clubs Kim got back more than a month after her entire set went missing following a flight.
Kim used a complete set of new clubs at last week’s Kia Classic, but has decided to go with the old putter for the first major of the year, at Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage, California starting on Thursday.
“I have just spoken to a policeman. He told me they found out who did it,” the 29-year-old told Reuters in a telephone interview on Tuesday.
The clubs disappeared from the baggage claim area at San Diego Airport after an American Airlines flight in January, Kim said.
They were found at a local second-hand sports store by some golf fans who saw Kim talking about her predicament in a television interview.
“It’s been distracting for a while,” Kim said, keen now to focus on golf again as she seeks to add to her two-stroke victory at last year’s Women’s British Open.
“I feel better with my clubs. I’m getting used to them and I’m just happy I was able to play well last week,” she said, referring to her tie for fourth at the Kia Classic on Sunday.
The personable Kim, known in the English-speaking world by her initials, I.K., is perhaps still best known for a tiny putt she missed at Mission Hills six years ago.
The putt, from barely a foot, 18 inches at most, caught the right edge of the hole and spun out and a shocked Kim subsequently lost a playoff to compatriot Yoo Sun-young.
Much like Scott Hoch, famous for the two-footer he missed that would have won the 1989 Masters, and Doug Sanders, who missed a three-footer for victory at the 1970 British Open, Kim had to learn to live with the constant reminders of her mistake.
“People will always remind me but I’m okay with it,” Kim said of the missed putt.
“You have to accept everything. Sometimes you have to let it go. It certainly wasn’t easy for me. Nobody really cares at end of the day if I missed it or not missed it but it mattered to me.
“I learned not to take it personally. I’m proud of myself. It’s not the worst thing can happen in life.”
The British Open victory at least directed the arc of her career narrative in a more positive direction.
“I stopped really caring about what other people think, because I wanted to keep playing golf,” she said.
“I love what I do.”
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing Ken Ferris)