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Former Prime Golfer Anthony Kim Returns From 11-12 months Absence to Be a part of LIV Golf

Former Prime Golfer Anthony Kim Returns From 11-12 months Absence to Be a part of LIV Golf

Not since Tiger Woods’ first comeback from injury in 2002 has professional golf been so riveted by a comeback attempt. This time it is Anthony Kim, who in his prime drew comparisons with the former World No 1 with his precocious talent and larger-than-life persona on the PGA Tour, and is now making waves with the announcement that he’s joining LIV Golf.

But amid the buzz of what will emerge from Kim’s comeback at LIV Golf in Jeddah on Friday, March 1, 2024, we need to pause and ponder. Tiger Woods had to withdraw for a few weeks towards the close of 2002 after surgery to remove fluid in the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) of the left knee. On return, he won in his first start of 2003. Woods was 27.

Kim is 38 and has been far removed from the glare of professional golf for 12 years. Since he walked away silently from the PGA Tour in 2012, burdened by injuries, his body and mind would have changed.

“Eleven years off is a long time, but I feel like I was blessed with a little bit of talent, and a little bit of hard work can go a long way, so I’m expecting good results,” said Anthony Kim in a promotional video released by LIV Golf.

Professional golf has certainly evolved into a different beast from the time he walked away, but then again, the sport is often all about mind over body. And as a three-time winner on the PGA Tour within a short span, Kim may well surprise spectators with an impressive performance.

The return of Anthony Kim, this time on the LIV Golf stage

The golfing world has waited patiently for Kim’s return. Since 2012, after his first-round pullout at the Wells Fargo Championship due to injury — and the ensuing surgery on his left Achilles tendon — Kim had not publicly expressed interest in returning to pro golf.

Ripples started a few weeks back, with rumours of Kim joining LIV Golf’s 2024 season as a wildcard entry at Jeddah’s Royal Greens Golf and Country Club from March 1 to 3. The official confirmation came on Wednesday, February 28.

“After stepping away from the game years ago due to injury, I’m happy to officially announce my return to the world of professional golf. It’s been a long time coming, and I’m very grateful for all the highs, lows and lessons learned from the first part of my career. I want to compete with the best players in the world, and I’m on a mission to prove to myself that I can win again. The next step on that journey starts now, and I’m excited to give everything I’ve got this season on the LIV Golf League,” said Kim.

“LIV Golf was launched to create new opportunities…and when I think of Anthony Kim, I can’t imagine a more perfect fit for what we’re trying to do. His talent is undeniable, and we are thrilled to welcome him back to professional golf with our league. It’s clear that he has the fire to win again and show why he was one of the most compelling players in the world, and we will support him on that mission as he works to earn his way back to the top of the game,” said LIV Golf Commissioner and CEO Greg Norman.

Status on LIV Golf

Jeddah is LIV Golf’s third stop in a 14-tournament schedule for 2024, and as one of the two wildcard entries for the entire season — with Hudson Swafford as the other — Kim will compete in the remaining 2024 LIV Golf regular season tournaments with the aim to collect enough points as an individual player. This will enable him to bag a spot in one of the 13 teams next season.

Proudly wearing a ‘Girl Dad’ T-shirt in the LIV Golf promo, Kim is a family man now. His daughter even briefly appears in the video. He has a story to tell, but it will come at the right time, he said.

Right now, he’s focused on playing good golf through the season. At 38, a lot of the faces Kim will tee-off with this week are unknown to him and so is their skill level, but a warning has been sent out, “I am here to bust everyone’s a**.”


Looking back on Kim in his prime

Kim is the perfect example of the great leveller life is. It all started with a solid amateur career where he shot the lowest score for a record at the University of Oklahoma, and was a three-time All-American and 2004 freshman of the year. Moving on, Kim played a stellar part in helping the US team get to the 2005 Walker Cup title.

The stage was set for the switchover, and Kim turned professional the next year. The spotlight was immediately on him with a T2 at the Valero Texas Open in his PGA Tour debut.

anthony kim liv golf
Anthony Kim at the 2007 Honda Classic held at the PGA National Resort & Spa-Championship Course in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. (Image: Stan Badz/ PGA)

The media announced the birth of a star, and Kim did his bit by notching four top-10s the following season. The Korean-American’s career reached a crescendo with two wins in quick succession in 2008. The Wachovia Championship and AT&T National titles and eight top-10s propelled Kim’s world ranking even higher. Sixth on the money list and fourth on the FedExCup standings, Kim hit a career high 6th on the Official World Golf Ranking.

The following season did not yield a win, but the three-top 10s and a runner-up finish in 22 starts kept his stock up.

Made for greater things

Kim would have been destined for greater glories, if his health had held up. Case in point: At the Masters’ week in 2009, he shot a record 11 birdies in Round 2. In 2010, he finished sole third in the season’s first Major in a field that was nothing but top notch.

Emboldened by his stellar results at the Masters, along with his victory at the 2010 Shell Houston Open the week before, Kim signed for another successful season despite being plagued by injuries.

anthony kim liv golf
Anthony Kim at the 2010 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. (Image: Jamie Squire/ Getty Images)

It was Kim’s talent that prevented 2011 from being a washout in terms of performance. The T5 at The Open Championship added to the T7 three seasons back, and the T6 at the Farmers Insurance Open was another bright spot amid pullouts from tournament weeks.

The lowest point

His career hit a nadir in 2012. In 10 starts, Kim made the cut just twice and his last three starts were recorded as pullouts due to injury.

His last start on the PGA Tour was the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship. One more injury and the ensuing pullout after Round 1 brought the curtain down on his career, which at one time had been described as phenomenal.

anthony kim liv golf
Anthony Kim at the 2012 Shell Houston Open at Redstone Golf Club in Humble, Texas. That year saw him plagued with injuries, which eventually led to his departure from profession golf. (Image: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

In contrast to the hype that surrounded his pro career in 2006, Kim tiptoed away from the scene in 2012, burdened by injuries and requiring surgery to fix his left Achilles tendon. A return to professional golf seemed unlikely — which is why his surprise comeback has taken the sporting world by storm.

What’s next?

Kim has reportedly signed with LIV Golf for a bonus in excess of USD 6 million, but his return to professional golf means he will have to forgo the insurance policy — worth more than USD 10 million — that he took at the peak of his career as cover for injuries. Perhaps, this was one of the reasons that governed his 12-year absence from pro golf.

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What matters now is that Anthony Kim is back, and it remains to be seen whether his second shot at pro golf overshadows his first innings, or whether he will slink back into a quiet life away from the spotlight.

(Main image: David Cannon/ Getty Images; Featured image: Jamie Squire/ Getty Images)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

– Who is Anthony Kim?

Anthony Kim is an American professional golfer who burst onto the PGA Tour in 2006. A precocious talent, Kim was termed the next big thing in pro golf after Tiger Woods.

– How many PGA Tour titles did Anthony Kim win?

Kim won thrice on the PGA Tour between 2008 and 2010. His wins were at the 2008 Wachovia Championship, AT&T National and 2010 Shell Houston Open.

– Why did Anthony Kim walk away from pro golf?

Hit by a spate of injuries, Kim withdrew after the first round of the 2012 Well Fargo Championship and had to undergo surgery to fix his Achilles tendon. Fans waited but there was no word on a comeback, until his LIV Golf return 11 years later.

– What is Anthony Kim’s status on LIV Golf?

Making a return to pro golf after 2012, Anthony Kim starts the 2024 season on LIV Golf as one of the two individual wildcards who will try to collect enough points to make one of the 13 teams in 2025.

Source: Prestige Online

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