The new Anthony Kim brings a smile to the Masters
When handicapping the Masters, it’s easy to throw the previous week’s winner into the “ones to watch” category, especially when the player has as much natural talent as Anthony Kim. But in Kim’s case, it isn’t just that he’s coming into Augusta fresh off of winning the 2010 Shell Houston Open, but more importantly, how he won it.
For Kim is a different player than he was last year. He was mature and patient, extremely patient this week. And patience is a virtue that bodes well at Augusta National Golf Club.
Kim, who won in one-hole playoff over Augusta’s own Vaughn Taylor today, gutted out a very unlikely win at the Tournament Course at Redstone Golf Club. In fact, his 23 fairways hit is better than just three PGA Tour winners since 1983, but even that stat doesn’t sufficiently illustrate the magic he displayed in Houston.
During his final-round 70, for example, he was a little unlucky on the par-3 14th when his well-struck 6-iron overshot the green. Faced with a blind 30-yard shot back up to the green Kim took it all in stride before he perfectly executed a dicey pitch straight up in the air to about six feet to save par.
“It’s been a very memorable week, maybe for not all the right reasons,” said the 25-year-old Kim. “But I was in some spots on the golf course I never thought I could possibly see. But I got out of those with pars and birdies and feel very confident about going into next week.”
You see, a couple of years ago, Kim might not have even made it to the weekend had he been driving the ball like he did this week, especially early in the tournament. But Kim said he’s grown up, not complaining about everything like he once did, not feeling entitled, appreciating what he has. He’s trying to enjoy the journey now, not getting flustered – even when he missed the 5-footer in regulation that would have avoided the playoff.
“Two years ago, that bag might have been in the water (next to the green),” Kim said, laughing. “I’m might not have had clubs to go out to the playoff.”
Kim simply went back out to the difficult 18th, found the fairway and the green and two-putted for the victory.
“I feel calm out there. I feel no sense of urgency,” said Kim, who now has three victories in his short PGA Tour career. “It’s something that has happened naturally and not something that has been forced.”
Kim said he’s merely embracing the dream of living as a PGA Tour player.
“There’s no reason to pout about a bad shot or a three-putt because it’s going to happen,” he said, "especially with the way the economy is now and lots of people struggling. I don’t want to kick sand in their face by having a bad attitude out there.”
Kim, unlike most of the players in the leader board at Redstone, was already in the Masters, but the way he won this week could prepare him well for next week. The only caveat might be a left thumb injury that he’s battled the better part of two years. It could also explain why Kim was a little wild with the driver since he said the injury does cause him pain on the course.
Still, expect nothing but a great effort this week in Augusta for Kim. His great attitude as of late combined with tremendous talent should bode well. And even though he’s planning to undergo surgery for the thumb after the Masters, my guess is he’ll be able to gut out the pain for at least another week.
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Is there a reason his name does not appear?