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From South Korea to New Zealand, Australia and the United States, sophomore Buckeye gaining confidence through increased competition

By Emily Krizan, Ohio State Athletics Communications

With over 1,000 athletes in its 36 varsity sports, the Ohio State Athletics Department has sponsored student-athletes from 41 states and 26 countries in the 2008-09 season. Like many of the teams, the Ohio State women’s golf program is no stranger to an international name on the lineup and currently boasts three out-of-country team members on its eight-person roster including sophomore In Hong Lim.

Lim, a native of South Korea, has proven to be an integral part of the Buckeye squad in her second season at Ohio State. The 30th-ranked Buckeyes according to the most recent Golfweek/Sagarin ratings, who are set to host their own Lady Buckeye Spring Invitational this weekend, have been led by Lim at four of their last five outings.

While she continues to develop her game at Ohio State, Lim’s path to Columbus has been a long one across oceans and language barriers and including a leap of faith with OSU coach Therese Hession.

Born in Seoul, Lim was introduced to the game of golf by her father around the age of eight. But after playing for several years in South Korea, where the few available golf courses are extremely expensive, Lim and her family made the decision to move to New Zealand.

In addition to an improved golf game, the move to New Zealand also gave Lim and her younger sister the opportunity to learn English.

“I’m glad we moved to New Zealand,” Lim said. “I just felt like I was falling behind (in my golf game) in Korea. But moving to New Zealand was really different. At first, I couldn’t even pick up the phone and call someone. I was so scared to talk that I would write down what I wanted to say and read it like a book.”

After a few years in New Zealand, and with improved English, Lim moved again, this time to Melbourne, Australia. It was there, while attending Ashwood Secondary School, that Lim’s golf game really took off.

A two-time champion of the Riversdale Cup as well as winner of the 2004 Victoria Junior championship and the School Sports Australia Golf championship, Lim knew that she wanted to take her game to the next level. Enlisting the help of an agency in Melbourne that links international amateur athletes with college opportunities, Lim eventually crossed paths with Ohio State head coach Therese Hession.

“Coach Hession found me,” Lim said. “She would call me every week to check on me and see how I was doing, and back then I hadn’t even met her in person.”

Committing to Ohio State sight unseen, Lim’s first trip to America came when she began her freshman year at the university.

“I first saw Coach Hession at the airport when she picked me up,” Lim said.”I barely even knew what was going on, because I had been on a plane for 24 hours and I was so tired. Los Angeles was my first experience in America and it was very exciting and interesting. When I finally got to Ohio, I was really amazed by the campus and the atmosphere. I loved it.”

After settling in at Ohio State, Lim competed in 21 rounds of competition for the Buckeyes in her rookie season. Despite a back injury that sat her out for part of the year, Lim came back when it mattered, tying for 10th place at the Big Ten championship.

“I was really eager to play, but there was nothing I could do about the injury,” Lim said. “I dragged myself to rehab every day and it felt so good to finally take the brace off. Doing well at Big Tens was such a relief.”

In her sophomore campaign, Lim participated in two events on the Buckeye’s fall slate, concluding the Tar Heel Invitational and the Lady Northern Invitational.

In the off-season, the Buckeyes conditioned hard to prepare for their competitive spring schedule. But for Lim, her biggest change over the winter came not in her swing but in her mental game. After talking with a sports psychologist, Lim said she entered the spring season with more confidence and trust in her abilities.

“Technically, I haven’t changed too much,” Lim said. “I’ve tightened up some things with my swing, but I think my biggest change was my attitude. Changing my attitude really helped a lot. Now, I try to stay positive and build confidence going into the tournaments.”

After leading for the Buckeyes at the Fort Myers Challenge, the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge and the Central District Invitational, Lim carded a career-best performance at the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic the end of March, when she tied for third to lead the Buckeyes to a tie for fourth against an extremely competitive field. 

“I didn’t even know I was playing well compared to other people at the Liz Murphey,” Lim said. “After I finished, I asked Coach Hession how I was doing and I was just like Oh my gosh, really?’ I was surprised when I signed the card and I was really happy with my score.”

With the lowest stroke average on the team, Lim’s increased confidence and resulting performances has not gone unnoticed by Hession.

“She has done a great job,” Hession said. “She’s not one of our longest hitters and that just shows that by keeping the ball in play, staying relaxed, and not pushing too hard to make something happen you get good results.

“There were a lot of All-Americans in the Liz Murphey field and she did just as well as a lot of them so that had to be a tremendous confidence builder on top of what she already has going on.”

Whether she is teeing off in South Korea, New Zealand, Australia or the United States, Lim has proven she has what it takes to be a competitive player in any country. As the Buckeyes prepare for their last regular-season tournament at home, they will look to the world-traveling sophomore to continue in her strong performances.

“Every one of us plays the golf tournaments to win,” Lim said. “I just want to try my best in front of the home crowd. It should be good preparation for the (NCAA Central) Regional since it’s on our home course. I’m just excited to play in Columbus.”