There once was a meteor and his name was Anthony Kim.
Kim rushed onto the world stage of golf as a three-time All-American at Oklahoma (2004-2006) when he played on the victorious U.S. team in the 2005 Walker Cup along with teammates, J.B. Holmes and Jeff Overton.
He flew through the 2006 Q-School at T13 earning his card for 2007. He had a 3rd, 4 top 10s, made 20 of 26 cuts and earned $1.5 million.
In 2008 he won twice: what’s now the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte and the AT&T National, Tiger Wood’s tournament that began at Congressional Country Club in Maryland and is now played at Aronimink just outside of Philadelphia. He made 19 0f 22 cuts, finished T3 in the Tour Championship and earned $4.7 million. In his Ryder Cup match against Sergio Garcia, he won 5&4, but was so intensely invested in the match that he didn’t know it. He was on his way to the 15th tee and the officials had to stop him to let him know.
In 2009, he cooled off a little. He had a 2nd and two 3rds, made $2.0 million and played on the Presidents Cup Team.
From March to May of 2010, he had a helluva run with a 2nd at the Honda Classic, a T22 at Doral in the WGC, a playoff win at the Shell Houston Open, a 3rd at the Masters and a T7 at the Wells Fargo. But he had to withdraw from the Players Championship the following week because of a thumb injury and consequent surgery. He couldn’t come back until early August, but almost all of the $2.6 million he earned was in the beginning of the year.
His slide began in 2011, but it was masked by two very nice finishes: a T6 at the beginning of the year at the Farmers in La Jolla and a T5 at the British Open in July. They were his only top 10s, he made 15 of 26 cuts and just $1.1 million.
This year he’s made just 2 of 9 cuts and a mere $33,960.
This is interesting to me because it illustrates perfectly that no matter where you are on the golfers’ food chain, you can never take your game for granted. Writing at pgatour.com in, “Lost swing: Kim feeling the pressure of retaining card,” Brian Wacker profiles what hubris, arrogance and youth can produce in the wrong hands:
For much of last season, Kim went from the 10,000 square-foot Dallas bachelor pad (complete with a $60,000 home theater system, among other trappings) straight to the first tee without having so much as touched a golf club in his off weeks. At one point, he says he went six months without a lesson. It showed in the results as he missed 11 cuts in 26 starts and on a couple of occasions shot in the 80s.
We think these guys are some sort of infallible gods who rarely hit bad shots or streaks. We think we’re the only ones who suffer at the hands of the cruel mistress that golf can be. We can’t believe our stupidity for not remembering that key swing thought that worked last round until long after the damage is done. We limply wonder why our cut tee shots starting up the left side of the hole intended to move towards the middle of the fairway, frequently turn into double crosses heading for the white boundary posts. We practice — sort of — enough to groove a good putting stroke…and then can’t make a four-footer for weeks on end.
In the end, it’s because our minds are riddled with egoic thoughts that never let our minds be at peace. With minds full of turmoil and confusion, we can’t be present to our swing thoughts on the practice tee or our targets and shots on the course. In the end, if you can’t reduce your world to your target and the shape of the shot that you want to hit to it, you will be destined to wander in the desert for forty years like Moses. Then, your only hope is that you started golf young enough to see the light on the other side of the murkiness.
Anthony Kim has the possibility of turning it all around, he’s that good.
But for now, he appears doomed to more wandering. He shot 2-over in the first round at the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte on Thursday, he’s T112 and needs to make up at least three shots just to make the cut.
Either way, he’s a smart guy and the experience will serve him well.