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Anthony Kim’s return won’t save PGA Tour, LIV Golf

Anthony Kim’s return won’t save PGA Tour, LIV Golf

As the cockiest among the PGA Tour’s young flat-brimmers back in the noughties, Anthony Kim has long been venerated by aging millennial bros as the apostolic leader of golf cool, but as with most cults, the enthusiasm for a second coming says less about the promise of the savior than the desperation of those wishing to be saved.

The enduring fan fascination with Kim is understandable. In a sport where even lifeless journeymen plow the furrow well into dotage, he was a brash and captivating personality who walked away at age 26 — not to the broadcasting booth or the corporate speaking circuit, just away. His last competitive round was Thursday, May 3, 2012, a 74 in the opening round of the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, N.C., where he’d won his first Tour event four years earlier. He’d been living hard, had lost a big sponsor and was close to losing his card.

“This was the start of my career,” Kim said that week. “Hopefully, I can start a new one here.”

Instead, he withdrew citing wrist and thumb pain and hasn’t competed since. He’s rarely even been seen, the few sightings of him posted to social media being analyzed with an intensity worthy of the Zapruder film.

Kim’s lengthy absence reportedly owes to a lucrative insurance payout for career-ending injuries, compensation that could be jeopardized if he returns to competition. If a rumored comeback happens on the PGA Tour, it would suggest his old confidence is intact, since out there money and status is hard-earned. Signing with LIV Golf, on the other hand, is more plausible and would be a slick arbitrage, the quality of his play being irrelevant to the rewards he’d receive and with guaranteed money far in excess of any insurance clawback. He may even think he can beat a handful of Greg Norman’s finest.

In lieu of results, the cult of Anthony Kim took over. A dozen years of applying Vaseline to the critical lens has obscured the reality that his prime was as brief as it is distant: three wins, three top 10 finishes in 15 major starts, one standout Ryder Cup. Revisiting performance statistics from his injury-free period suggests that Kim’s greatest weapon was his confidence, and how much of that can we reasonably expect now? Discount the messianic cult and you’ve got a 38-year-old with three wins and a bit of moxie.

He’s Scott Stallings, except that we actually know Stallings still has game.

Anthony Kim watches his tee shot on the 13th hole during the second round…


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