I started thinking about a piece about Anthony Kim and his poor play of late, so I did some googling. It quickly became apparent that this has become an annual rite as consistent as Azaleas at Augusta in April and the world’s best golfers complaining about the setup of this year’s US Open course.
The background is fairly well known by now. After four Top 10 finishes in 2007 he broke through with two wins and eight Top 10s in 2008. I remember watching him at the AT&T. He was absolutely brilliant. He dominated the course and the competition with an aggressive attitude, brash confidence, and talented shot making. I remember thinking about whether we were seeing the beginning of the career of golf’s next superstar. He clearly had everything, both on and off the course, necessary to become really really big. His great play and exuberant team spirit was one of the highlights of the US victory at the Ryder Cup to cap the year. The way he took Sergio apart in the final single was particularly memorable.
And the expectations for 2009 couldn’t have gotten ramped up more than when he took 2:nd at Kapalua. Then, the rollercoaster started. For the year he only had three Top 10 finishes and five missed cuts. The talk started about his lifestyle, with claims he was more prone to late nights and partying than time on the range. He’d have a good round or two, and invariably he would talk about how hard he’s been working, but he failed to perform at the highest level with any sort of consistency.
2010 started quietly, but it quickly became obvious that he was back and better than ever. From The Honda to the Wells Fargo he ran off five tournaments with finishes of 2, T22, 1, 3, and T7; winning the Houston Open and blitzing Augusta. But he was hurt. His thumb was going to require surgery at some point. The Ryder Cup was on the horizon again, and Anthony badly wanted to play, so he decided to go under the knife in the middle of the season. His recovery was slow, and he probably rushed back too soon. A T76, a T46 and four missed cuts ensued, and he failed to get onto the Ryder Cup team.
His play picked up at the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011, with five straight tournaments where he finished in the Top 25. At the beginning of the year I picked him to play really well and win the Masters, but now it seems the bottom has fallen out again. Starting with Phoenix he has Five MCs, one WD, and finishes of T13, T33, T56, T68, and T82. He’s on the course in Memphis right now, and he’s five over after twelve holes. That’s another acronym you don’t want to be associated with: DFL.
Now I have to say, I really like this guy. He’s great in interviews, he’s excited and honest about the game of golf, and he’s a lot of fun to watch. Heck, he’s even a fan of the Sooners and the Lakers like myself. Nobody would be more thrilled than me to see him ride his talents to the very top of the game.
But clearly something’s wrong with him at this time. Maybe it’s the thumb, or some other injury. Maybe his “lifestyle” is again getting in the way of the hard work that even a remarkable talent like AK needs to put in. A quick look at his stats don’t reveal any one particular aspect of his game as being the culprit, as he’s 170th in driving, 140th in greens hit, and 67th in putting. After a peak at number 12 in 2008 he’s fallen to number 60 in the world ranking, and he’s in 89th place in the Fedex Cup.
I hope we one day get to find out just how good Anthony Kim can be, because I think that would be an incredibly exciting thing to see. It would be a shame if we sit around the blogosphere in 20 years and talk about what could have been. He’s only 26 years old, so he has a lot of time to get things together. Here’s to hoping.
Keep’em in the short stuff.