Lim Earns Special First Win as a Rebel
Oct. 26, 2017
KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. - Two months and one day before her first win as an Ole Miss Rebel, Diane Lim lost something.
Thanks to a treacherous first workout of the season, the junior lost her breakfast at the Tuohy Basketball Center--her unofficial welcome to the NCAA level after transferring from Coastal Georgia this offseason. But since that rough start, the 2016 NAIA All-American has more than found her way as an SEC golfer, culminating this week with her seventh career victory at the Palmetto Intercollegiate.
"The first day at the gym was rough. I threw up. It was bad," Lim recalled with a laugh. "But the other day, Coach Kory told me that I got most-improved in the gym, which is really nice to
Lim brought an outstanding short game to Oxford. Her control around the green earned her the nickname the "Wedge Wizard" in the Rebel locker room. But her top objective upon joining Ole Miss was adding distance to her game, making that hard work in the weight room as crucial as it was painful.
The results have been worth it. Her swing speed has skyrocketed, and with the addition of a new driver, the Suwanee, Georgia, native is hitting the ball further than ever before--exactly the kind of progress she was hoping for when she was deciding where to take her talents after an outstanding career at Coastal Georgia.
"I wasn't really sure where I wanted to go," Lim said. "I wanted to be at a good program, somewhere that was going to make me better."
Lim considered some of the nation's top programs throughout her recruitment--South Carolina, Georgia, Augusta--but when Ole Miss' assistant coach Drew Belt gave her a call, everything started to fall into place. Lim was in Korea when she received the call, and she made the visit to Oxford almost immediately after she returned to the United States.
As most Rebel recruitment stories go, once Lim spent some time in Oxford, on America's Most Beautiful
"Ole Miss just popped down from the sky, and I said, `Oh my gosh, I've got to take this,'" Lim said. "I loved everything about it. I was here for two days, and the second day, my mom and I were just like, `I think this is it. I don't think it can get any better.' The next morning after breakfast, I told Coach Drew that I wanted to come here."
Belt and head coach Kory Henkes
Lim made a strong debut in her first start, providing counting scores in the first (72) and third (74) rounds to help Ole Miss earn one of the biggest tournament wins in program history at the Magnolia Invitational. She played the first 133 holes of her Ole Miss career without anything worse than a double-bogey, and that incredible accuracy made Henkes and Belt excited to see what she could do in the Palmetto at Turtle Point Golf Course--a notoriously narrow track with small greens.
"Coach Belt and I knew this course would set up well for Diane's game," Henkes said. "Turtle Point has a lot of lurking trouble with either a water hazard or out of bounds on every hole. Diane hits the ball straight as an arrow and has a top-notch short game so she was able to avoid any big numbers."
In avoiding those big numbers, Lim found the lowest number of her collegiate career, shooting 4-under (68) in Round 1. She opened her tournament with back-to-back birdies, then she closed the opening round with back-to-back birdies as well, including a 20-foot putt on the 18th with her whole team watching.
The junior cruised into the second round, where the weather threw a wrench into the Rebels' carefully laid plans. Facing gusting winds off the Atlantic Ocean and on-and-off torrential rains, Lim's
"I was just trying to keep it in play," Lim said of Round 2. "The course doesn't play that long, it's just very tight. I was just trying to minimize damage, play it smart and cope with the wind."
Lim navigated the wind well enough to remain in a tie for the lead after a 2-over (74) second round, but early in Round 3, the nerves set in. Facing her first shot at an NCAA win, Lim picked up bogeys on the first and fourth holes to slip it second place.
"I knew I needed to make something happen or else I wasn't going to be in it," Lim said.
So on the fifth and sixth holes, Lim made something happen. Using her newfound distance coupled with her always-reliable short game, Lim set herself up with back-to-back birdies to regain control. She added another short birdie make on the 10th hole to gain back another stroke--one that ultimately helped her avoid a playoff.
Xavier sophomore Mikayla Fitzpatrick birdied three of her last five holes to finish at 2-under. Lim didn't know it at the time, but she stepped to the 18th tee box with just a one-stroke lead. After a strong drive, Lim aimed right with her second shot, looking to avoid the water that lines the left of Turtle Point's 18th hole and the bunkers that protect its green.
However, Lim pulled her shot 40 yards to the left of its intended target. She looked at Coach Belt and simply said, "Whoops."
It wasn't the word Lim wanted to be saying on the 18th fairway with just a one-stroke lead, but it all worked out. Though off target, Lim's shot found the putting surface, 25 feet away from the cup. Her short game shined through one last time as she dropped the long putt to within two feet, allowing her to tap in for a tournament-clinching par, earning a water shower from her teammates and her first win as a Rebel.
"It was great to have the whole team so supportive," Lim said. "The coaches were really happy. I had a lot of other friends at the tournament who congratulated me. It was a great environment to be in."
Lim has certainly thrived in her new environment. She signed seven months after the other three members of the 2017 class, but she has fit right in all the same. For the Ole Miss coaches, seeing the growth Lim has made in such a short time a Rebel has been an incredible process.
"We are so proud of Diane for her first win as an Ole Miss Rebel," Henkes said. "She is not only a great golfer but a great teammate and a real joy to be around every day."
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