Anthony Kim burst onto the PGA Tour in 2007, won three times, starred in the 2008 Ryder Cup and then disappeared in 2012. Here I take a look at what happened to one of golf’s brightest talents and where he is now.
Where to start? Kim did a lot in golf in a short period of time.
From a young age Kim seemingly had the golfing world at his feet. Of South Korean heritage, he was born in America and attended school in California before winning a golf scholarship to the University of Oklahoma.
In 2006, at 21 years of age, Kim turned professional. In his debut on the PGA Tour, he finished second at the Valero Texas Open.
A PGA Tour card followed in 2007 and it took just a year for this precocious talent to register his first victory at the Wachovia Championship. Obviously, it was not just any old triumph. Kim’s 16-under-par-272 total was the lowest score in the tournament’s history.
A few months later and victory number two arrived. This time at the AT&T National. In lifting that trophy, Kim became the first American under 25 to win twice in one year on the PGA Tour since Tiger Woods in 2000.
By the end of 2008, the fast swinging, five-foot-ten prodigy was up to sixth in the World Golf Rankings. The Ryder Cup and Sergio Garcia were next.
On debut, Kim inspired the US team to victory at Valhalla Golf Club with a powerful coupling of sheer desire and mind-blowing skill. He featured in four matches and returned 2.5 points.
The most significant of which came against Garcia in the singles where he demolished the Spaniard five and four and so set the tone for American Sunday-dominance.
“His energy and enthusiasm, his killer instinct, it all converged into him becoming our team leader,” US Captain, Paul Azinger said of rookie Kim in 2008.
2010 rolled on and still under the age of 25, Kim won again on the PGA Tour when he fended off the challenge of Vaughn Taylor in a play-off at the Shell Houston Open.
A third place finish at the Masters later the same month and the media began to label Kim as a potential future great of the game. He drew many comparisons with Tiger Woods for his intensity and bullishness on the course.
That was as good as it good though. 2011 was a year where he struggled with injuries and 2012 was the last time anyone saw him on a golf course competing professionally.
After shooting an opening round of 74 at the Wells Fargo Championship, Kim dumped his bag in his car, skipped a drug test, returned and took the drug test and then, quite literally, fell off the face of the earth.
For three years he was not seen or heard. Rumours surfaced that a drug problem as well as an insurance exploitation strategy were keeping him from returning.
Tired of the whispers, Kim finally spoke to the Golf Channel in 2015 to answer questions on his whereabouts.
As for struggles with substance abuse, he denied those claims: “I’ve never tested positive for anything since I’ve been on the PGA Tour. These rumors tainted my reputation and I didn’t have a great one to begin with.”
He also thwarted the theory that he wasn’t playing because a return would signal the end of an insurance pay-out he was receiving.
“I paid well into the mid-six figures for the policy,” he continued.
“They wouldn’t have paid me every month had I not been to the doctors, showing them all my X-rays, doing all the treatment, the acupuncture, twice a day for physical therapy.”
Finally, asked if it was possible that he played his last round on the PGA Tour at age 26, Kim paused, chuckled and said: “Anything is possible. Isn’t that what the slogan says?”
And so it’s proving. After that famous interview with the Golf Channel, Kim has gone missing again.
It is believed that he has immersed himself in the world of business along with this former caddie Brodie Flanders and that he does not play the game anymore, not even recreationally.
Where in the world is Anthony Kim? We’re not entirely sure but we do know that he isn’t on a golf course. And that’s sad because he’s still just 31 and in many ways he was the start of the breed of young, fearless golfers who took the sport back from Tiger.