Category archive: Anthony Kim
It was the Tuesday before the AT&T National two years ago, and as the long day faded into twilight, only a single competitor remained on the driving range at Congressional Country Club.
That lone player was Anthony Kim, which was more than a tad surprising. Perhaps this signified a change in attitude for Kim -- never known as the PGA Tour's most diligent worker -- a suggestion that the then 23-year-old was taking life as a professional golfer more seriously than ever before.
It wasn't until this story was relayed to a few of Kim's peers that it was revealed his reason for a late-day practice session was because he had hit the town pretty hard the night before.
Such news remains relevant now, as Kim recently made headlines during a run of partying in Las Vegas prior to the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. According to various reports, Kim acted in a belligerent manner at a blackjack table before being asked to tone it down, and later sprayed a bottle of expensive champagne across the dance floor of a nightclub while racking up a hefty tab.
The weightiness of these actions grew more palpable when Kim subsequently withdrew from the tournament, citing soreness in his left thumb, which required surgery in May and forced him to miss three months of the season.
Since then, it has been proposed that if Kim can't keep himself on the straight and narrow, he may wind up as golf's next John Daly -- which is to say, a hard-partying, fun-loving guy off the course but largely a wasted talent on it.
You know what? That's a bunch of baloney.
Although Kim's actions may have crossed the line into arrogant and crude, they were neither illegal nor overtly incendiary. Most importantly, they weren't conceived on company time. These events didn't take place during a tournament or even directly before, but instead in the days leading up to one.
Since when is it wrong for a single, rich, young professional to enjoy himself during off-peak hours? Musicians do it all the time. Actors, too. And yet, there's rarely any discussion that the next album or feature film will suffer due to these extracurricular activities.
Just because Kim lives in the whitebread world of golf doesn't mean he should be held to a different standard. Let's face it: Of the many things we learned about Tiger Woods over the past year, perhaps the most surprising wasn't that he was living a double-life, but that his personal affairs seemed to have little effect on his on-course performance.
No one is suggesting that Kim owns a closet full of skeletons akin to those of Woods, but it's obvious that the guy enjoys a good party. It would be foolish, though, to draw a parallel between his social life and any impending downfall in his career.
What Kim does in his off time allows him to blow off some steam from the rigors of his career. We all need it; professional golfers are no different. Steve Stricker enjoys deer hunting. Jim Furyk is a football fan. Lee Westwood owns thoroughbred horses.
Upon recent memory, there's only one player -- Loren Roberts -- who has listed golf among the "special interests" in his PGA Tour bio. Just as a plumber doesn't work on leaky faucets in his spare time and an accountant doesn't constantly crunch numbers, golfers need other hobbies, too.
So Anthony Kim's just happens to be partying. Hey, there are worse things for a guy to partake in. This shouldn't portend a cloudy future for him on the course any more than another player's hobbies would spell doom.
There aren't many swings in the game more refined than Kim's, and surely there is no more fiery competitor. These are the attributes we should be examining when discussing Kim's potential to ascend as one of the world's elite golfers. If that means he sometimes embarks on an early-week practice session late in the day, so be it. It's not until a player's other favorite activity -- whether that's partying, hunting, football or horses -- begins to take away from his career that we should begin to worry about his future.
Need proof? Well, you need only look back at the 2008 AT&T, when five days after being the final player left at the range, Kim found himself holding a big trophy and an oversized check in the winner's circle. No doubt there was a party to be had after that one.
Since this is a speculative piece about the impending U.S. Ryder Cup captain's picks, let's end the biggest part of the speculation right now: If Tiger Woods wants to be part of the team, then Tiger Woods will be part of the team.
For the first time since turning pro, Woods failed to qualify for this year's roster. (In fact, this was the first time he wasn't No. 1 on the points list.) Now the talk of the golf world has turned to whether captain Corey Pavin will choose him as one of his four wild-card selections Sept. 7.
Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty ImagesTiger Woods hasn't played in the Ryder Cup since 2006 but has been on the U.S. squad five times in his career.
"He's high on my list," Pavin said Monday. "He's certainly a big consideration, no doubt."
As well he should be. Never before has a Ryder Cup skipper had the luxury of adding the world's No. 1-ranked player -- a guy with 14 major championship victories and five previous appearances -- to the team. Though many are quick to point out that Woods isn't playing his usual brand of consistent golf, he's still averaging a high number of birdies to offset his mistakes, which should fit the competition's match play format, especially in the fourball portion of the festivities.
The remainder of the decision-making routine isn't as simple. The way I see it, Pavin has a pool of about 13 candidates from which to choose his final three players. An assistant for Tom Lehman in 2006, expect this year's captain to follow his predecessor's lead, which means all decisions will err on the side of caution, dismissing any yearn for Monday morning quarterbacking from the masses.
With that in mind, let's try to get inside Pavin's head and break down what his process of elimination might entail.
If this was an episode of "The Bachelor" -- and don't you wish it was? -- the first players who wouldn't be offered roses include Ben Crane, Ryan Moore, Bo Van Pelt, Ryan Palmer and Ricky Barnes. Each is a solid prospect -- solid enough that he finished in the top 22 on the final points list -- but none quite inspires fear in the hearts of the Europeans. Add to that the fact that only Crane and Palmer have won this season (both back in January) and it's easy to see why, despite possessing certain skills that could translate to success in this event, this fivesome likely won't make it past the first cut.
The second elimination round will be a much more difficult procedure. Pavin could do worse than having any of these five players on his roster -- and each could still work his way onto the team over the next three weeks -- but with Cup rookies Bubba Watson, Jeff Overton, Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar already qualified, their inexperience could play a major factor.
So say goodbye to Rickie Fowler, who would likely win a fan voting, if such a thing existed; Nick Watney, who wasn't helped by that final-round 81 at Whistling Straights; Sean O'Hair, who has gotten into the mix with strong play over the past two months; J.B. Holmes, whose power isn't as essential with Watson and Johnson each already filling that role; and Lucas Glover, who fell out of the top-eight this past week for the first time since winning last year's U.S. Open.
That leaves three players to join Woods when the remainder of the roster is named: Zach Johnson, who is fresh off a T-3 at the PGA Championship; Stewart Cink, who knows a thing or two about playing well in the U.K.; and Anthony Kim, who was the last player to miss qualifying for the team, despite missing three months because of a thumb surgery.
Each provides much-needed experience, having played in the biennial competition in the past, though Kim's position might be the most tenuous; if he doesn't prove he's fully healed and another candidate plays well in upcoming events, he could easily be supplanted.
Prior to the last edition of the Ryder Cup, we would already know which selections had been named by this time of year. The most recent former captain, Paul Azinger, changed that process, though, allowing for three extra weeks in order to pick the hottest players.
Expect Pavin to take advantage of this rule, too. While four men have the inside track, the final outcome could be very different come Sept. 7.
Jason Sobel is a golf writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn.com.