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Dawson junior Yale Kim has his sights set on a run at a repeat Class 3A state title.
Matthew Jonas / Staff Photographer
Dawson junior Yale Kim has his sights set on a run at a repeat Class 3A state title.

LAFAYETTE — Last season was a confusing one for Dawson School golfer Yale Kim.

Kim’s 2014 campaign was also frustrating and, in the end, glorious. Then a sophomore, Kim never really found his stroke or any rhythm throughout the regular season. He broke 80 only twice before the Class 3A state tournament.

But come tournament time, Kim reached a level of poise and consistency even he didn’t know he had and won the state title in dramatic fashion.

“It was great,” Kim said. “To start the season, I was in a slump and I couldn’t really get out of it. I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t get into the 70s. I just got in the zone at state.”

At the par-72 Northeastern 18 Golf Course, Kim shot back-to-back 73s to end up in a three-player playoff at the end of the second day. After shooting four straight pars on the 18th hole, the 2014 Times-Call boys golf Player of the Year outlasted Vail Christian’s Cooper Gould for the title.

Surprisingly, Kim pulled off his last-minute heroics after spending most of the summer with his parents in his native South Korea and without access to any golf course. But after finding more opportunities to practice in South Korea this summer, Kim thinks he’s perhaps better prepared for another run at the state title.

“This summer I played a lot of golf so I’m really confident in my game,” said Kim, who lives with his uncle Min Soh and aunt Jin Won Kim during the school year. “I’m expecting to have a better start and to keep it going. I can consistently hit about 20 or 30 yards farther on my drive and my chipping and short game have gotten much better.”

Kim will have some new faces to contend with this season just to qualify for the state tournament, as Dawson School has moved into the 3A Northern Region. Mostly notably, that puts the Mustangs up against the local rival Peak to Peak Pumas, who placed just above them in third at last year’s state tournament.

“I’ve heard from our coach that we’ll have a lot more competition this year,” Kim said. “If I keep doing what I’m doing, I think I will keep getting better and that’s what I’m really focused on this year.”

Tougher regional competition and more summer practice will give Kim’s junior season a different feel. Based on what Dawson School’s 13-year veteran head coach Arnold Lewis has seen so far, there’s no reason for Kim not to ride the optimism from last year’s state title.

“The exciting thing was how he finished at the end of a confusing season,” Lewis said. “You hate to get too excited early on but seeing him play so far, he’s bigger and stronger and he looks great. We played a practice round the other day and he birdied something like four holes in a row.”

Dawson School was fourth in the team scoring last season but graduated Cole Folwell, who placed in the top 10 at state three times. The Mustangs won their first team state title in 2013.

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