Birdie Kim, 2005
Playing in the U.S. Women's Open for the first time, Birdie Kim was tied for the lead on the 72nd hole.
The closing hole at Denver's Cherry Hills was tough; there had been just three birdies there previously during the tournament. Kim was in the bunker below the hole, 30 feet from the pin. She had changed sand wedges about two weeks earlier and was still adjusting to the new club.
But Kim had observed the bunker shot of playing partner Michelle Wie, so she had an idea of what to do on hers. She just wasn't expecting to do it so well: Kim holed out for the only birdie that day on No. 18.
"I had the confidence to make it close after seeing Michelle [Wie's shot from the bunker]," Kim said, recalling her mindset then. "But I don't know if I could make it again. It was really a surprise."
Morgan Pressel, standing in the 18th fairway watching, couldn't help but put her hands on her head in shock. When Kim had hit into the bunker, Pressel thought a par might win the tournament or at least get her into a playoff. Now, though, Pressel had to go for birdie, too. Instead, she bogeyed.
Kim became the second South Korean to win the Women's Open, following her idol, Se Ri Pak, who had done it seven years prior.
Kim was in a serious car accident in 2009 and didn't compete again until 2011. She is currently playing on the LPGA's Symetra Tour, and the Women's Open remains her only LPGA title. But what a victory that was, and people still ask her about the bunker shot.
"I love it," she said, "because they keep reminding me of great memories."
"I had the confidence to make it close after seeing Michelle [Wie's shot from the bunker]. But I don't know if I could make it again. It was really a surprise.''
Kim's given name is Ju-Yun, but she took on the moniker "Birdie" to help her stand out.