Kim credits daughter, wife for inspiration

golf04 April 2024 19:26| Ā© Reuters
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Anthony Kim Ā© Gallo Images

When Anthony Kim tees off on Friday at LIV Golf Miami, he'll be playing his first competitive round of golf in the United States in a dozen years.

The last time, he was 26 and withdrew from the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, North Carolina. When he left the course, he left golf for good.

"At the time of that event, my life was already kind of going downhill," he said on Thursday at a news conference ahead of the Miami event. "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."

A few months later, he texted a group of people and invited them over to raid the three or four rooms in his house full of golf gear, telling them to take what they wanted.

Fast forward to 2024, and Kim, 38, is back, buoyed by a small support system that includes his wife, mother, and most importantly, his daughter, Isabella.

He discusses some of the challenges he's faced over the past 12 years in "The Journey Back," an in-house documentary produced by LIV Golf, and said a bit more on Thursday without sharing many of the specifics.

He did reveal he had Achilles surgery in 2012 and underwent other medical procedures in the ensuing years, including spinal fusion. He mentioned encountering negative "issues" without elaborating.


"I don't blame anybody but myself for the issues that I've had. With that being said, I was thrown into a situation because I had some success in golf that gave me different opportunities than a normal 23- or 24-year-old, and I took advantage of that," he said.

"Once you get going down that slippery slope, it's hard to make your way back, and unfortunately, I just kept going downhill and somehow, I've made it through. I'm sitting here in front of you just feeling really honoured and blessed to be here because there's a lot of reasons I shouldn't be here right now."

During his hiatus, Kim got as far from golf as he could. He didn't watch the sport, didn't keep up on the successes of his contemporaries.

"I think I probably watched nine holes of golf when I wanted to fall asleep," he said. "But I didn't watch much golf. I just found out from (Dustin Johnson) yesterday, playing a practice round with him yesterday, that Brooks (Koepka) won back-to-back majors, which is awesome. But I had no clue that that happened."

But Kim is back on the scene, inspired by his wife, Emily, and the birth of Isabella in 2022.

He returned to the course, playing a few rounds with Emily. Later, he learned, the golf circuits were interested in him.

"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," he said.

"So I got with the people I trust and I made my decision, and I'm really, really happy to be here."


He's playing as a wild card on the LIV circuit, meaning he's been given a spot in tournaments but isn't part of the LIV team concept. He had a rocky start at LIV Golf Jeddah in February. Last month, in Hong Kong, he shot rounds of 76 and 72 before finishing with a 65.

In Hong Kong, he led the 54-man field in putting.

Still, he said, he and his game are a work in progress.

"So I'm learning as I go. And important as golf is and as important as it is to win and to be in contention, I just want to be in the right mental place," he said.

"Life is too short to be super upset. I would get upset if I played a bad round of golf for two weeks, and it would bother me, eat at me. Now whether I play good or play bad, and obviously I scored poorly in my first few events, after the round, I get to see my daughter or go to the pool with her. I could care less what I shot. I know that the next day, I'm going to lace up any shoes or not lace up my shoes and go try my best again."

He said his self-worth used to be tied to his success on the course. No more.

"At this point in my life, I'm able to separate those two, which I feel like is a superpower right now. I know that whether I make a 15 or whether I make a 3, my daughter is still going to want to eat strawberry ice cream and I'm going to do that with her," he said.

"That's the most fun part of my day. Golf, you know, through these experiences with my family, every experience I get to have, I appreciate that more, and it makes golf a lot more simple."