Anthony Kim return a potential masterstroke by LIV Golf

Ronan MacNamara

Anthony Kim (Photo by Darren Carroll/Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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Back probably not better than ever and for maybe more than one 54-hole event with no cut and one 54-hole event with no cut only, is the mysterious and at some point mythical AK. Anthony Kim.

Rumours began circulating at the start of February that the square driver assassin had come out of, well, hibernation essentially and was the centre of a tug of war between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf.

Stand down Howard Wolowitz, Kim is the original belt buckle beauty.

Throughout Kim’s twelve year absence there have been various what if’s, where is he, what happened and who was articles published about the potential whereabouts of Anthony Kim who rose to a career-high ranking of 6 in 2008 – the same year he swatted aside Sergio Garcia in the Ryder Cup singles like it was a local Pierce Purcell game.

It is a shame however, that such a grand return has been dictated by money. If anything is a symbol of where golf has ended up, this is it.

Still, it’s a complete masterstroke by LIV. Kim’s return whether he plays well, poorly, or indifferent, is fascinating.

Even from a social media, website hits and clicks point of view, swing videos of AK are going to do the rounds this week even if admittedly I was underwhelmed to see a ponytailed, scruffy looking 38-year-old in a t-shirt and baggy shorts. A far cry from the swashbuckling style icon he was back in the peak Nike days.

But Kim’s return will be good for LIV. Other golfers have worked much harder to try and make a breakthrough to get even a crumb of the riches floating around in the sport right now but Kim swooping in out of nowhere just guarantees attention.

It will bring eyeballs to LIV, this is their gamble. As I write this, I am not a LIV Golf fan. I am not Peter Finnan, I haven’t completely turned my back on 72-hole halfway cut events. We traditionalists need to stick together.

However, provided I am home at a reasonable hour from Dalymount Park on Friday night I plan to turn on my television, flick the remote down to ‘apps,’ press select, use the right arrow, click YouTube, click the search button, select the letters ‘L I V’ and after an eternal process sit down and watch some of Kim’s round.

That in essence is what LIV is trying to achieve?

I, like many other golf fans will be tuning in for the novelty of seeing Kim hit golf shots in a competitive environment – I use the term loosely.

The acid test for LIV will be how long they can sustain it, how long will the Kim hype last? No doubt he will be paraded around all of their social channels and garner as much TV coverage as possible but if this now 38-year-old almost nobody doesn’t perform, how long will LIV view him as a viable marketing tool?

LIV has had two successful events so far and they’ve done a lot of things right. The product appears much better and they have certainly had the rub of the green (no pun) when it comes to box office leaderboards vs the tripe the PGA Tour has served up.

The PGA Tour has had an underwhelming season to date with depleted fields lacking in star names. While some of the storylines from the winners have been cool, that’s not sustainable to get eyes in front of television screens. Anthony Kim, for now, is.

The life of Kim is a curious one. He hasn’t played a tournament anywhere since June 2012 when he had surgery on his left achilles tendon. Reportedly, he accepted a $10 million insurance policy which prevented him from playing tournament golf and his return to golf could be confirmation that his terms have expired.

Kim would have had a route back to the PGA Tour, his profile would have earned him no shortage of exemptions outside of his past champion status.

But there are no guarantees with a return to the PGA Tour. It speaks of where his motivations lie that he his in Jeddah this week, ready to play in front of at most a handful of people, for free money.

Show me the money he said.

Last place will pocket him $50,000.

You can buy a lot of sparkly XL sized ‘AK’ belt buckles for that.


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