Kim reveals just how far golf was from his mind and how quickly it came back into the picture

Mark McGowan

Anthony Kim (Photo by Matthew Harris/LIV Golf)

Mark McGowan

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Anthony Kim’s return to professional golf has made big headlines, but in his pre-tournament press conference at LIV Miami, the enigmatic former superstar revealed just how out of touch and out of love he’d fallen with the game in the near dozen-year absence.

“I think I probably watched nine holes of golf when I wanted to fall asleep,” Kim admitted. “But I didn’t watch much golf. I just found out from DJ yesterday playing a practice round with him yesterday that Brooks won back-to-back majors, which is awesome. But I had no clue that that happened.”

While it might be hard to imagine that a former professional golfer could be so oblivious to the goings-on in the game that he was once an intricate part of, for a non-golfer, it’s not so hard to believe. And that’s what Kim had become. When he walked away from the game after a series of injuries, his life was in turmoil and the last few months of his career pre-comeback were symptomatic of a man teetering on the edge.

“At the time of that event, my life was already kind of going downhill,” he explained. “I was making poor decisions off the golf course, and obviously on, missing that many cuts. But I wasn’t thinking about golf at that moment. I wasn’t thinking about golf that year when I was playing. Once I realized after my surgery that I was going to be, you know, possible that I don’t play again, I was completely okay with that.

“I actually had a Saturday one weekend a few months after I got done playing, and I had probably three or four rooms full of golf stuff, hats, gloves, balls, shoes, clubs, obviously, and I texted a hundred people and I said, just come — whoever gets here fast on Saturday gets to keep it all. Let’s just say it looked like a garage sale.”

And when he was out, he was out. Golf didn’t just take a back seat, it was out the back window and he was driving a rally car. By far the biggest golf news story of the decade was Tiger Woods winning the 2019 Masters – a story that created headlines in even non-sports circles – so Kim was aware of that, but only just and he certainly wasn’t glued to the TV screen watching his old friend and occasional sparring partner – a man he called ‘T-Dub’ – do the seemingly impossible and climb that mountain once again.

“Where I was in my life, I really wasn’t focused on golf,” Kim said. “I definitely heard that it happened but I mean, you know, going through some of the things I’ve gone through in my life, I wasn’t focused on golf. I didn’t care about somebody who won a golf tournament. There’s so many other big issues going on in the world that golf is such a small part of it. And obviously for all of us, it gives us a great platform to be able to speak to a large group of people but at the same time, it’s just golf.”

Quite how deep into the dark recesses Kim fell may never be known, but he shared enough in this press conference to inform us that he’d required professional help to get his life back on track and that there was a danger that he may not be able to turn it around.

“I mean, you know, not to get too far into it, but when doctors are telling you that you may not have much time left, that’s a pretty rude awakening,” he shared. “I still think about it to this day when I’m out there and I get frustrated with my golf, you know, how far I’ve come. And other people don’t need to know the journey. I’m going to share it, and the people that find inspiration and strength from it, I hope it can influence them in a positive way.

“But yeah, I got to a point where, you know, I may not be here speaking to you guys.”

As hard as it is to fathom, Kim says that there was less than three months between him tentatively toying with the idea of making a return to golf and him actually teeing it up in Saudi Arabia at LIV Jeddah. And it was his wife, who started playing golf and coaxed him to come along, that sowed the seeds. But even when LIV Golf arrived on the scene and it was evident that there could be a big money offer on the table for him to make a return, he was in neither physical nor mental shape to even contemplate it.

“So a few years ago, I had heard that, you know, LIV was starting and that they would be interested in having me play,” he said. “But at the time, these conversations were being brought to me through different people. I wasn’t in the place to play golf, mentally, emotionally, physically, any of that.

“I think once my documentary comes out, people will understand how low of a point it got, and it will make more sense. But I wasn’t in a place to play golf. And a couple months ago, I actually broke my foot. I broke my ankle eight or nine months ago, and so I was in a cast for four months.

“Obviously after that, golf was out of the picture. So I played a few rounds with my wife. The day before I broke my ankle, I played my first full round of golf. Then the next day I went out on hole 6, I tried to jump a creek and being 38 years old, I didn’t make it and wound up breaking my ankle. I thought it was out of the picture.

“A couple months ago, maybe four months ago, five months ago, I got a call that LIV was interested and also got a call from the PGA TOUR that they were interested.

“So I got with the people I trust and I made my decision, and I’m really, really happy to be here.”

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