Anthony Kim turned 35 on Friday, a sad reminder that we are all getting old and that it’s been a long time since we saw AK teeing it up on the PGA Tour. More than eight years, in fact, have passed since Kim withdrew after shooting 74 in the opening round of the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship. And in that time, golf fans have had to settle for watching old highlights, hearing heartwarming old stories, or random sightings of the popular player at pet stores.
One fan went as far as to write a song parody begging Kim to return to competitive golf. But as the years go on, that appears less and less likely. A series of injuries took Kim from us far too early, and a rumored hefty insurance policy would certainly make him less inclined to mount a comeback.
But on this bittersweet day, we choose to focus on the good times that we shared with this swashbuckling and giant belt-buckling legend. Here’s a look back at our 7 favorite Anthony Kim moments. And no, we didn’t rank them because that would be like trying to rank your kids.
1. His dominant first PGA Tour win.
Following a standout college career at Oklahoma, we knew big things were coming when Kim finished second in his first PGA Tour start at the 2006 Valero Texas Open. A year-and-a-half later, Kim won his first PGA Tour title against a strong field at Quail Hollow. By five shots. Kim was 22.
2. His lone Ryder Cup appearance in 2008.
If Kim wasn’t already a star after winning at Wells Fargo in May of 2008 and at Congressional two months later, he certainly became a household name with his performance at Valhalla. According to U.S. captain Paul Azinger, Kim wanted a shot at Sergio Garcia all week. And when he got it in the opening match of Sunday’s singles session, he said, “I’m gonna whup his ass for your today, Captain.” He sure did. The 5-and-4 drubbing set the tone early for the U.S. victory. In an event where the Americans have struggled mightily in recent years, the U.S. is a perfect 1-0 when Kim is on the team. Just saying.
3. His lone NBA All-Star Celebrity Game appearance in 2010.
It wasn’t just Kim’s golf that made him a star. The young man who used to practice with the Oklahoma basketball team had a coolness that transcended golf, and he showed off his athleticism during the 2010 NBA All-Star weekend. Later that year he teamed up with Shaq to beat Charles Barkley and Bubba Watson in an episode of “Shaq Vs.” In other words, he would have been the perfect person to participate in the recent made-for-TV charity golf events.
4. His 11 birdies at the 2009 Masters.
Yep, you read that right. ELEVEN birdies. And yes, that is a Masters record. AK could get HOT. Speaking of which. . .
5. His back-nine rally at the 2010 Masters.
Kim made a valiant late effort at tracking down Phil Mickelson with a back-nine 31 that included a birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie stretch from holes No. 13-16. His Sunday 65 gave him a solo third, the best finish at a major of his young career. And there would certainly be more to come. Oh, right. Never mind. Sigh.
6. His clinic with Tiger Woods.
The first 1:40 of this is pure gold. Tiger asks Kim for his warmup routine and Kim basically says he doesn’t have one. Then when Woods says his routine is more “regimented,” Kim chuckles and they both laugh.
They would have made for an entertaining Ryder Cup tandem, huh?
7. His feud with Robert Allenby.
After beating the Aussie 5-and-3 in a Sunday singles match at the 2009 Presidents Cup, Allenby claimed Kim, who had a reputation as a partier, had been out into the wee hours the night before their match and had arrived back at his hotel “sideways.” It’s unclear why Allenby said anything since if that was true, it made his loss look even worse. Regardless, Kim was not happy and denied Allenby’s claims and as fate would have it, the two met again a few weeks later at the World Match Play Championship. Ahead of their match, Kim promised to “be in bed by 9:30.” He won 5 and 4 this time.
And. . . well. . . that’s pretty much it because Kim’s career was so short. But his lore lives on. And that was a lot of fun. Let’s do this again when he turns (gulp) 40.