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Published: Wednesday, 7/11/2007

Kim once had Daly s swing if not the distance

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS COLUMNIST
Mi Hyun Kim, left, watches a shot by the Mud Hens  Jack Hannahan   he s watching too   during yesterday s UnitedHealthcare Celebrity/Pro Challenge at Highland Meadows. Mi Hyun Kim, left, watches a shot by the Mud Hens Jack Hannahan he s watching too during yesterday s UnitedHealthcare Celebrity/Pro Challenge at Highland Meadows.
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Here are two names you don t often see in the same sentence Mi Hyun Kim and John Daly.

Kim, the defending champion in the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic, is 5-feet, 1-inch tall and weighs about half of one of Daly s legs. She is one of golf s Punch-and-Judy hitters where Daly has two distances long and longer.

But Kim, who has reworked her swing since winning at Highland Meadows a year ago, likened her old swing to Daly s exaggerated backswing.

When I was young and started playing, I was very, very short, even shorter than now, she said, laughing. And I started with a regular lady s club, so my swing was way over the top like John Daly. I played with that swing for a long time. But I m getting older now and my coach told me [my swing] would have to get more compact if I wanted to play until I was 40 or 45.

So I worked hard changing my swing during the offseason and it s working very well. It s shorter, a little tighter, and I have more club speed at impact, more acceleration, and it has helped my distance.

The gain has been modest about two yards, on average, per drive but it is a gain nonetheless. Kim said she doesn t worry as much about reaching long par-4 holes in regulation.

And, with the new swing came early-season success.

I always used to play better after July, she said. But this year I played good and with a lot of confidence from the start of the season.

Kim already has six top-10 finishes, including a victory at the SemGroup Championship in Oklahoma in early May.

This week, she ll try to join countrywoman Se Ri Pak in winning back-to-back Farr titles. She won a year ago on the third hole of a sudden-death playoff against Natalie Gulbis.

I m very happy to be back, Kim said. A lot of people seem happy to see me and I m feeling very confident.

THE CHALLENGE: A pro-am team headed by 2005 Farr Classic champion Heather Young won yesterday s six-hole UnitedHealthcare Celebrity/Pro Challenge. Joined by comedian Dean Obeidallah and amateur guest Jim Stengle, Young s team finished 2-under with birdies at Nos. 10 and 14.

Young said to read nothing sinister into the fact that her former caddie, husband Jeremy Young, is now working for LPGA rival Angela Stanford. Young s new caddie is Heather Drew, who played on tour for about 15 years until 1999.

Jeremy had a chance to work on the PGA Tour, so he started the year with Len Mattiace, Heather Young said. It turned out to be harder being apart than we thought it would be. So Angela, who he worked for before we were married, asked him to come back in May. It has worked out great for all of us.

OH, BABY! Hilary Lunke, the 2003 U.S. Women s Open champion and the vice president of the LPGA Players Executive Committee, is making the Farr Classic her final event before a maternity leave. She is due to deliver her first child on Nov. 4.

A couple dozen of her fellow LPGA pros surprised her with a baby shower yesterday evening in the swimming pool area at Highland Meadows.

In 03, Lunke became the first player in the history of the Women s Open to win the event after qualifying through local and sectional qualifying tournaments.

LOPEZ ILL: Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez was a scratch from yesterday s Celebrity/Pro Challenge after becoming ill during a practice session. Julieta Granada was a last-minute replacement for Lopez in the event.

Farr Classic director Judd Silverman said Lopez is still expected to play in today s National City Celebrity Pro-Am (7:50 tee time off No. 1) and in the tour event that begins tomorrow.



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