Naperville's Andrew Lim is Augusta-bound

Writing from Chicago

Friday, March 30, 2018

Andrew Lim is your basic 13-year-old golf whiz.

He must be. He’ll be at Augusta National Golf Club on Sunday. With his clubs.

Lim, who lives in Naperville, qualified for the Drive, Chip and Putt championship round in the Boys 12-13 bracket. He’s the lone Chicago-area qualifier.

“It’s really exciting,” Lim said Friday while waiting at O’Hare with his parents to board a flight to Augusta. “It’s a new experience. I’ve never been to any tournament except a practice round (for the U.S. Open) at Chambers Bay.”

The Lim family – he has an older sister, Emma, and younger brother, Matthew – lived in Washington then, but relocated to Naperville about 18 months ago. He was already playing golf, and playing it well. He’d tried to make the DCP finals before but could only get to the second of the three qualifying stages.

This year, he took second in the local stage at Cantigny, where he took up the game at age 7, then won the sub-regional at Cog Hill to advance to the regional at The Honors Course near Chattanooga, Tennessee, a setting as exclusive and nearly as picturesque as Augusta itself.

Then came the drama. Usually, the order of play matches the title – driving, chipping and putting – but at Honors, chipping came last, and Lim knew exactly what he had to do to succeed.

“I was really nervous,” he said. “My hands were shaking when I hit my last shot. I had to be within eight feet or so.”

He chipped to about eight feet, and that sent him to Augusta.

Since then, he’s adopted a practice routine that cycles through driving, chipping and putting. At the moment, he said his driving is the best part of his game.

The plan at Augusta: “Hit the first drive for accuracy, and the second for distance,” Lim said. He needs to get one within the confines of a 40-yard wide fairway on Augusta’s mammoth driving range to get at least one point, but the longer the drive, the better his chance to move up in the standings among his nine challengers.

Then it’s on to chipping, where the competition is likely to be fierce, and after that, to the 18th green, where he’ll have two putts on the same stage where everyone from Horton Smith to Sergio Garcia has triumphed.

Lim, who said his goal is to finish in the top four, is seeking to become the third Chicago-area champion in the five years the DCP has been conducted. Effie Perakis won the Girls 7-9 bracket in 2015, and Christian Kim scored a victory in Boys 10-11 in 2016.

Unlike Scott Foster, the 36-year-old accountant who lived out a Walter Mitty dream by playing for the Blackhawks as an emergency goalie on Thursday night, Andrew Lim isn’t quite a folk hero to his classmates yet.

“There aren’t a lot of golfers in school,” Lim said.

In a couple of days, they might all want to join him on the first tee.

Tim Cronin

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