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Anthony Kim Is No Golf Savior

As a millennial of a sure age, the sentimental a part of me desires to observe Anthony Kim play golf once more.

Kim, now 38 years previous, as soon as captivated the golf world—significantly my technology—along with his play and persona within the late 2000s and early 2010s.

For me, the fascination with Kim may be defined in a single second. After he received the AT&T Nationwide in 2008, Kim was signing autographs when he was handed a flip cellphone. Event host Tiger Woods was on the opposite line.

“T-Dub, what’s up?” Kim mentioned with out breaking stride in his autograph signing.

The person known as A.Ok. oozed charisma like that in a time interval when golf was quick on stars. This was earlier than the prime of Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and different luminaries. When Kim received that occasion almost 16 years in the past, the highest 10 of the Official World Golf Rating learn: Woods, Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott, Geoff Ogilvy, Stewart Cink, Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia, Steve Stricker, Justin Rose and Vijay Singh.

Some super Corridor of Fame-worthy gamers however not quite a lot of flash. Not quite a lot of persona that followers might get behind.

Kim was somebody followers might get behind. He wore blinged-out belt buckles. His sport was aggressive. He got here off a bit of brash and cocky.

To steal an expression, Kim was identified to borrow a bit of an excessive amount of happiness from tomorrow. He admitted to partying arduous, squeezing what he might out of his superstar.

After which, on the younger age of 26, he was gone. Kim had been combating damage and his sport spiraled. He shot a 74 within the opening spherical of the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship after which withdrew—it was the final spherical of aggressive golf we’ve seen him play.

Kim disappeared, changing into a “golf yeti” as he principally prevented the highlight. Studies circulated that his aggressive profession was presumably over and he meant on cashing in on an insurance coverage coverage.

However that might all change. It has been reported that Kim is mulling a return to skilled golf—the rumor mill is suggesting that he might signal on with LIV and start play subsequent month. The league would, in concept, pay the worth of the insurance coverage coverage after which some to get Kim.

LIV is determined to maneuver the needle. Final weekend, PGA Tour TV scores for the third spherical of the AT&T Pebble Seashore Professional-Am had been 1.95 million. On the identical day, LIV solely had 168,000 viewers. A day later, when climate washed out play at Pebble, LIV rose to 432,000 viewers—a bump however not a significant one when you think about that many solely tuned in as a result of watching the PGA Tour’s greatest was not an possibility.

Would Kim—and all of the fascination he brings—give LIV a significant enhance in recognition?

Like a Tarantino film, I’ll skip to the tip after which work my approach again: Kim could possibly be the only greatest motive for an informal golf fan to tune in however the novelty of his return would in all probability be short-lived.

The Legend of Anthony Kim

Kim has all of the makings of a people hero.

His beginner profession was stellar. Kim set the College of Oklahoma profession scoring file, received the celebrated Northeast Novice in 2004 and went 2-1 for the Individuals in a victorious 2005 Walker Cup.

At a time when PGA Tour rookies (a minimum of these not named Tiger Woods) typically needed to wrestle for years earlier than discovering their footing, Kim got here out swinging. He completed tied for second in his debut, almost successful the 2006 Valero Texas Open. Kim bought by way of Q-College that fall—lower than two years later, he was a prime 20 participant on this planet. 

Kim received the 2008 Wachovia Championship by 5 pictures, setting a match scoring file. Two months later, he received the AT&T Nationwide and bought that decision from Woods. Kim turned the primary American below the age of 25 to win twice in a single yr on the PGA Tour since Woods in 2000. By the tip of the summer season, he was as much as No. 6 on this planet.

That September, at simply 23, Kim certified for the Ryder Cup group. The opposite seven automated qualifiers for the American facet had been between the ages of 31 and 48. Kim was a burst of youth and enthusiasm, enjoying a crucial position on that successful group. He paired with Mickelson 3 times (going 1-1-1) and then beat Sergio Garcia, 5 and 4, within the opening singles match on Sunday. Afterwards, he paraded round in an American flag.

That was arguably the peak of A.Ok. mania. He was a younger, flashy American of Korean descent storming into an previous man’s sport with a sure bravado. Kim wasn’t Tiger however there was some overlap of their magnetism.

He didn’t win the next yr, however his legend grew. He made 11 birdies throughout the second spherical of the 2009 Masters, notching a file that also stands. And in that fall’s Presidents Cup, Kim went 3-1.

Though he completed third within the 2010 Masters and captured his third PGA Tour victory on the Shell Houston Open, Kim’s slide had began. He struggled with damage the remainder of that yr and fell to No. 31 within the OWGR. He missed 11 cuts in 2011 and that was basically the start of the tip. By early 2012, he fell exterior the highest 100 on this planet.

The week of the Wells Fargo Championship—the identical occasion he had received 4 years earlier—Kim expressed optimism in his press convention.

“This was the beginning of my profession,” Kim mentioned. “Hopefully, I can begin a brand new one right here.”

However he withdrew from that occasion and had surgical procedure to restore the injured achilles tendon in his left leg. It was going to require a prolonged rehab course of and the usage of a serious medical exemption in 2013, however as a substitute of coming again, Kim vanished.

Simply two years later, it was reported that Kim not performed golf of any kind. That may change over the following years because the occasional swing video surfaced, however Kim principally went into the darkness. In a uncommon interview with the Related Press in 2015, Kim conceded he had endured “six or seven surgical procedures” between 2012 and 2015. He listed labrum, spinal fusion, rotator cuff and hand surgical procedures as amongst what he needed to take care of on the time. He known as golf “a fond reminiscence,” which appeared to point his greatest enjoying days had been properly behind him.

In that interview, Kim defined that he took out an insurance coverage coverage in 2011, offering him revenue if he was unable to play golf once more. It was reported to be price someplace between $10 million and $20 million.

”I paid properly into the mid-six figures for the coverage,” Kim mentioned. ”They wouldn’t have paid me each month had I not been to the medical doctors, displaying all of them my X-rays, doing all of the remedy, the acupuncture, twice a day for bodily remedy.”

A variety of time handed. Kim would play charity occasions or have likelihood conferences with followers however he principally stored to himself. That call runs counter to every part we learn about golf: specifically that golfers may be profitable properly into their 40s or 50s, and there’s not often a real full-on retirement from the sport. It additionally ran counter to his persona.

There have all the time been rumors of a comeback. Now it (allegedly) would possibly occur.

The Energy of Nostalgia

The thriller and intrigue round Anthony Kim is a captivating research in nostalgia.

Kim was a very good participant, a three-time Tour winner who had a pleasant stretch of golf over a number of years. He was charming, charming and edgy, a cult basic of a golfer. He performed with pleasure and a child-like love for golf. It’s straightforward to grasp why he possessed a sure gravitational pull.

He did all of this properly earlier than X (Twitter) reached its peak in recognition. You possibly can return and watch highlights however the reminiscence of Anthony Kim is best than the truth.

Kim solely registered three top-10 main finishes. He struggled with driver yips—in his final full Tour season, Kim ranked No. 171 in Strokes Gained off the tee. He had been an outstanding driver of the ball in 2007 and 2008 however regressed over time, possible resulting from damage. He was not identified for his work ethic, even in wholesome instances.

He was a certifiable world-beater for one season (2008) when he ranked No. 3 in whole Strokes Gained. Kim was by no means inside the highest 30 for the stat in every other season.

participant. A memorable participant. However not an awesome participant. Not a famous person.

In right this moment’s world, he’s akin to Tom Kim. Somebody who has tons of expertise and an attention-grabbing profile however isn’t in the identical dialog because the elite tier of professional golfers.

Reminiscence is humorous. In the identical approach your emotions of faculty may be skewed—it was a continuous, utterly carefree occasion with no stressing over homework, proper?—the emotions round A.Ok. are in all probability a lot the identical.

The Actuality of the Comeback

There are two sides of the doable Anthony Kim comeback.

Let’s begin from Kim’s perspective. If the aim is to play nice golf, that is going to be an excruciating problem. He’s 38 years previous and a dozen years faraway from significant competitors. That’s almost one-third of his life.

Any Tour participant will inform you that taking pictures 63 throughout an informal spherical at your private home course has little relationship to enjoying properly in a big-time match.

If he does come again, the most certainly consequence is that he’ll wrestle. For that motive, it could make extra sense for him to chase a assured payday on LIV quite than attempting to earn his approach again on the PGA Tour—though as a golf fan, watching Kim try to get again on Tour the old style approach could be must-watch TV.

Nonetheless, from a LIV or PGA Tour perspective, a Kim comeback appears like idiot’s gold.

If it’s LIV, there could possibly be a short-term bump in curiosity. I’d rank him as my prime motive for being . A ton of individuals need to know what his sport seems like and the way he carries himself on the course. It could be cool to see him get entangled in social media, which wasn’t booming throughout his heyday. Possibly his persona is additive to the sport.

On the identical time, the novelty of Kim coming again might erode shortly. It could additionally really feel purely transactional for him to take this cash and compete in what’s principally exhibition golf. Does he solely need the cash or is that this about attending to play match golf once more? Will he be going by way of the motions or leaning arduous into the leisure facet like he as soon as did?

His rumored LIV debut could possibly be in Saudi Arabia after which Hong Kong the next week. Most American viewers received’t be watching reside. LIV does return to the U.S. in April for its Miami occasion, so that might spark some fan curiosity.

If he by some means performs properly, it would possibly be a significant enhance. There’s the potential for followers to observe all of his pictures reside or on-demand. But when he doesn’t play properly, it’s arduous to think about intrigue would stay excessive.

The considered Kim slogging by way of LIV’s Houston or Nashville occasions, within the unrelenting warmth of summer season, whereas taking pictures 75… is one thing no golf fan ought to need to see.

LIV’s Battle for Consideration

A Kim comeback with LIV would additional expose the one space of the circuit that actually saps curiosity: there aren’t any stakes.

Just about everybody concerned is assured to stick with LIV no matter how they play. It’s a cash funnel, an invitational. That’s the major motive there aren’t any world rating factors available. 

For all the PGA Tour’s warts, it nonetheless has a system the place gamers can earn their approach into signature occasions. There’s qualifying. There’s a substantial reservoir of historical past round venues and tournaments. There’s extra context.

And the PGA Tour nonetheless has the higher gamers, by a large margin. Solely three of the highest 25 golfers within the Information Golf rating play on LIV. Of the highest 100 Information Golf gamers, there are 71 PGA Tour gamers and solely 17 LIV gamers. These rankings account for all golf performed in all places.

LIV just lately introduced in Tyrrell Hatton and reportedly got here near signing reigning U.S. Open champion Wyndham Clark. Nevertheless, it’ll take much more than that to tip the scales.

Anthony Kim might assist—and it may be a bet price making—however he’s no savior. 

We’re nonetheless questioning the place professional golf goes from right here. The PGA Tour is in negotiations to accomplice with the Saudi Public Funding Fund, which backs LIV. There are quite a lot of hurdles and complicating elements in that partnership, together with a current non-public fairness funding the PGA Tour obtained from Strategic Sports activities Group.

One factor we all know is that this present model of the golf world doesn’t make sense. Golf isn’t sufficiently big to have gamers cut up into two completely different excursions. There must be some cohesion. How we get there’s nonetheless a thriller, very similar to Kim.

Do you suppose Anthony Kim will transfer the needle if he returns? Are you curious about watching him play once more?

Let me know beneath within the feedback.



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