Kim hopes to get his game back at Quail Hollow

By Doug FergusonMay 1, 2012, 10:16 pm

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The practice range at Quail Hollow was filled with PGA Tour players Tuesday afternoon, making it too busy for Anthony Kim.

He took his game - or what's left of it - behind a row of trees near the short-game area where no one could watch. He found a patch of grass where he could fire shots through a wide gap in the trees, and Kim stayed there for nearly two hours under a hot sun.

Kim didn't want anyone to watch. And he didn't want to hear the whispers that have followed him for the last four months.

What's wrong with this guy?

He attributes it to nagging injuries - the left thumb that was operated on in 2010 and cost him a spot on the Ryder Cup team, right elbow, right wrist. There is no structural damage and nothing to keep him from playing, though he is losing practice time.

And it shows.

Kim has completed only two of the nine tournaments he has played. He has missed the cut four times. He was disqualified after opening with a 78 at Riviera. He withdrew from the last two tournaments he played, after a 79 in the first round at Houston and midway through the opening round in San Antonio, after he hit a 5-iron out of a bush, without realizing there was a rock next to his ball. Kim said the ball went 200 yards, and the rock went 15 yards.

Kim said his caddie cleaned out his locker at the Texas Open, when he pulled out. He didn't feel like facing other players, who would see him leaving a tournament far too early.

''I hear it all the time ... across the locker room doors,'' Kim said. ''I hear people, 'What is going on with him?' I hear little comments. 'He doesn't care about golf.' Everyone has a reason. No one knows the reason but me. I need to hit balls, practice. But I'm hurting myself by hitting more balls.''

He is No. 210 on the money list with $33,960. In his first five seasons on Tour, he averaged $107,585 per tournament. If he doesn't turn it around soon, Kim is in danger of losing his card.

He is well aware of this. It's one thing to hear it from the players. Kim even heard from his mother.

''My mom told me, 'Hey, there's a caddie that said he made $60,000 caddying at my club. The caddie stays at home and works four days a week. He's made $60,000. You've only made $30,000,' '' Kim said. ''I couldn't do anything but laugh.''

Laughter has been rare this year.

Kim was not eligible for the Masters. He is not exempt for the U.S. Open. Tuesday was the first time he hit balls since he withdrew from the Texas Open. After one swing, he clutched his right elbow. There was a duck-hook with the driver, another shot that resembled a shank. The other shots were mostly good, though Kim said he still feels a jolt in his elbow even after hitting wedges.

''My body feels like it's coming back, and then there's one little thing after another,'' he said. ''It's been a frustrating year. I'm trying to have a good attitude, but it gets tougher and tougher.''

It's hard to believe that only four years ago, Kim was being heralded as a rising star. He won Quail Hollow by five shots for his first Tour win, then won the AT&T National two months later to become the first American under 25 since Tiger Woods to win at least twice in one season. At the Ryder Cup that year, he was the catalyst in a rare American victory.

That's becoming a distant memory. Reasons are starting to sound more like excuses.

''I feel closer than everyone thinks,'' Kim said. ''I don't see why I can't go out there and shoot in the mid-60s every day. I know the golf I have played has been closer to 80 than 60. But I don't feel that much different.''

Everything about him is different, though.

He no longer has a bag deal, so Kim is using a red carry bag that says ''Oklahoma Sooners,'' a bag typically seen at college tournaments. He no longer has a big entourage. He has lost some of his swagger, though the 26-year-old Kim is engaging as ever, quick to smile and delightful when he's around kids.

His mother, who showed a sense of humor with the dig about the club caddie, remains his biggest fan. She rarely comes to tournaments and cares only that her son is happy, even if he wants to stop playing golf and come home to Los Angeles.

What made her remind Kim that he could lose his card?

''She doesn't think I think enough,'' Kim said, and he didn't argue that point. ''She has to do it for both of us.''

Kim probably should take more time off, especially if he's feeling minor pain in his elbow when he swings the club. He wants to get his thumb checked out next week when he has a day off at The Players Championship. He was concerned that when he struck that rock at the Texas Open, he felt pain in both hands.

''I need to play. I want to play,'' he said. ''And obviously I need to get it going pretty soon.''

Despite an atrocious start to the season, he says his injuries are more physical than mental. Sure, his confidence has suffered, but he had enough in the first place so the tank is not empty.

Besides, the Wells Fargo Championship is important to him. This is where he won for the first time, setting the tournament record at 16-under 272.

''That was the start of my career,'' he said. ''Hopefully, I can start a new one here.''

Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


FALLING

J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

"Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

"The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

"Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

Class of 2011: The groups before The Group

By Mercer BaggsNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

We’ve been grouping things since the beginning, as in The Beginning, when God said this is heaven and this is earth, and you’re fish and you’re fowl.

God probably wasn’t concerned with marketing strategies at the time and how #beastsoftheearth would look with a hashtag, but humans have evolved into such thinking (or not evolved, depending on your thinking).

We now have all manner of items lumped into the cute, the catchy and the kitschy. Anything that will capture our attention before the next thing quickly wrests said attention away.

Modern focus, in a group sense in the golf world, is on the Class of 2011. This isn’t an arbitrary assembly of players based on world ranking or current form. It’s not a Big Pick A Number.

There’s an actual tie that binds as it takes a specific distinction to be part of the club. It’s a group of 20-somethings who graduated from high school in the aforementioned year, many who have a PGA Tour card, a handful of who have PGA Tour wins, and a couple of who have major titles.

It’s a deep and talented collective, one for which our knowledge should continue to expand as resumes grow.

Do any “classes” in golf history compare? Well, it’s not like we’ve long been lumping successful players together based on when they completed their primary education. But there are other notable groups of players, based primarily on birthdate, relative competition and accomplishment.

Here’s a few on both the men’s and women’s side:

BORN IN 1912

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Feb. 4, 1912 Byron Nelson 52 5
May 27, 1912 Sam Snead 82 7
Aug. 13, 1912 Ben Hogan 64 9

Born six months within one another. Only a threesome, but a Hall of Fame trio that combined for 198 PGA Tour wins and 21 majors.


BORN IN 1949

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 4, 1949 Tom Watson 39 8
Dec. 5, 1949 Lanny Wadkins 21 1
Dec. 9, 1949 Tom Kite 19 1

Only 96 days separate these three Hall of Fame players. Extend the reach into March of 1950 and you'll get two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North.


BORN IN 1955

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 30, 1955 Curtis Strange 17 2
Jan. 30, 1955 Payne Stewart 11 3
Feb. 10, 1955 Greg Norman 20 2

Another trio of Hall of Fame players. Strange and Stewart were born on the same day with Norman 11 days later. Fellow PGA Tour winners born in 1955: Scott Simpson, Scott Hoch and Loren Roberts.


WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1956-57

Birthdate Player LPGA wins Major wins
Feb. 22, 1956 Amy Alcott 29 5
Oct. 14, 1956 Beth Daniel 33 1
Oct. 27, 1956 Patty Sheehan 35 6
Jan. 6, 1957 Nancy Lopez 48 3

A little arbitrary here, but go with it. Four Hall of Famers on the women's side, all born within one year of each other. That's an average (!) career of 36 tour wins and nearly four majors.


EUROPE'S BIG 5

Birthdate Player Euro (PGA Tour) wins Major wins
April 9, 1957 Seve Ballesteros 50 (9) 5
July 18, 1957 Nick Faldo 30 (9) 6
Aug. 27, 1957 Bernhard Langer 42 (3) 2
Feb. 9, 1958 Sandy Lyle 18 (6) 2
March 2, 1958 Ian Woosnam 29 (2) 1

The best 'class' of players Europe has to offer. Five born within a year of one another. Five Hall of Fame members. Five who transformed and globalized European golf.


WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1969-70

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 12, 1969 Angel Cabrera 3 2
Oct. 17, 1969 Ernie Els 19 4
May 12, 1970 Jim Furyk 17 1
May 12, 1970 Mike Weir 8 1
June 16, 1970 Phil Mickelson 42 5

Not a tight-knit group, but a little more global bonding in accordance to the PGA Tour's increased international reach. Add in worldwide wins – in excess of 200 combined – and this group is even more impressive.


BORN IN 1980

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 9, 1980 Sergio Garcia 10 1
July 16, 1980 Adam Scott 13 1
July 30, 1980 Justin Rose 8 1

Could be three future Hall of Fame members here.

Editor's note: Golf Channel's editorial research unit contributed.