Hawk's Nest: Anthony Kim, where have you gone?

By John HawkinsApril 28, 2014, 2:30 pm

It wasn’t the roughest winter I’ve ever experienced in the great northeast, but it definitely has been the longest – and I’m not entirely sure it’s over. My aging bones are sick of the cold. My golf ball is shivering, my handicap is bloated, and my long-sleeve undershirts are begging for a day off.

Every aspect of the game is laborious in two clubs of breeze on a 47-degree afternoon. Without sufficient evidence of blood flow in my hands, my chances of making a 6-footer are lower than the temperature. A left-to-right crosswind turns me into a 15 handicap. Any chip to within 10 feet of the hole is cause for celebration, as the skating rink we call a golf course simply has no tolerance for a creaky-jointed chopper.

In two months, I’ll be whining about the humidity, but until then, a sweat-soaked baseball cap sounds pretty good.

SIX YEARS HAVE now passed since Anthony Kim roared to the center of the universe as golf’s Next Big Thing. A five-stroke victory over a premium field at Quail Hollow in May 2008 was as loud as arrivals get, and when Kim won the AT&T National nine weeks later, you couldn’t help but think America’s best player might be a 23-year-old kid of Asian descent and immense ability. 

Tiger Woods had just undergone knee surgery. Phil Mickelson hadn’t won a major title in 27 months, and besides, the game’s populace almost seemed desperate for a splash of fresh young blood. Kim made more big noise at the Ryder Cup that fall, partnering successfully with Mickelson before destroying Sergio Garcia in the first match of the Sunday singles.

This week’s gathering at Quail Hollow also marks another anniversary – Kim hasn’t played a hole on the PGA Tour in precisely two years. He withdrew from the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship after a first-round 74, announced he was taking five months off because of tendinitis in his left arm, and then tore his Achilles while working out in San Diego about six weeks later.

We haven’t seen him since.

“I’m hopeful it will be in 2014,” Kim’s agent, Clarke Jones, told me Sunday. “Anything other than that is a guess, and I don’t like to guess. He’s a marvelous talent, but it has been a long time. There’s no denying that.”

I’ve known Jones for much longer; he’s as straight-up a man as anyone in his occupation can possibly be. I sensed his reluctance to answer questions regarding Kim. Not because he’s hiding anything, but because there are no answers, no timetable, nothing to report.

Very few players generate more bewilderment on my live chats than does Kim. He is still on the radar of many, even if he remains invisible, perhaps because his meteoric rise and sharp fall were seasoned by whispers that he enjoyed his adult beverages.

Kim did nothing to dismiss the notion that he was a fan of the nightlife, leaving one with the sense that he thought he could burn the candle any way he wanted. With that in mind, I must have written it a half-dozen times: no Tour pro can be giving away strokes to the field at 2 a.m.

At this point, though, none of that really matters. Owing to rumors that Kim's disappearance is due at least in part to a suspension from the Tour, Jones made himself very clear.

“I can categorically deny that there has been any suspension,” he said. “Nothing has been done by the PGA Tour to prevent Anthony from returning.”

In search of something resembling context, I asked Jones if Kim was playing any golf, even recreationally.


Doesn’t sound like much of a comeback, if you ask me. “He’s not living under a bridge, he’s not living in a box,” Jones added. “I’m going to go see him [in Texas] in a few weeks, and at that point, I’ll get a better definition of where he stands.”

SINCE THERE’S NO time like the present, I thought it would be interesting to merge the past and future when it comes to the all-time greats winning major championships. If Woods returns from back surgery to play in the British Open, as was reported last week, he would resume his quest to surpass Jack Nicklaus’ total of 18 titles.

Tiger turns 39 in December. The thought of him winning five more majors at this point in his career is ludicrous to some, but it certainly is possible – and probably more likely than you think.

Ben Hogan won five majors after his 38th birthday. Nicklaus himself won four, and for those who wonder if Woods’ health will hold up long enough to give Jack a run, it should be pointed out that Hogan won his after getting hit by a bus at 36.

Here’s a major count among historically relevant players from the age of 38 and beyond:

• Hogan: 5 of 9 total major victories

• Nicklaus: 4 of 18

• Gary Player: 3 of 9

• Sam Snead: 3 of 7

• Lee Trevino: 1 of 6

• Walter Hagen: 0 of 11

• Tom Watson: 0 of 8

• Gene Sarazen: 0 of 7

• Arnold Palmer: 0 of 7

From a long-term perspective, the thing to remember about Woods is that his body has continued to break down, almost at an alarming rate, despite being one of the strongest and most physically fit golfers ever. Nicklaus couldn’t find the gym unless you hid his fishing rods there, but he lasted for a couple of eternities and won major titles almost a quarter of a century apart.

Tiger doesn’t play a ton of tournament golf and still gets hurt. According to the tea leaves, that is not a good sign.

ONE OF THE more memorable things I’ve seen on a practice range involved Kim and Woods at Quail Hollow before the start of the 2007 tournament. Red Shirt was hitting balls late Wednesday morning when the rookie approached, a huge grin on his face, although it took a few swings before Kim could get his attention.

“Hey Tiger, check it out!” AK gushed, showing off his belt buckle, which was roughly the size of Rhode Island and featured his initials set in diamonds. Frankly, it appeared to swiped from Liberace’s closet, but Woods seemed cautious about embarrassing the kid – several people were watching the exchange.

Tiger responded with a good-natured chuckle, and then went back to beating balls. He would win that week. Kim would win the tournament the very next year. My, how things have changed.

Fitzpatrick one back in 2018 Euro Tour opener

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 1:37 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia had six birdies and a bogey Thursday for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke lead at the Hong Kong Open, the first event of the 2018 European Tour season.

Playing in sunny but breezy conditions at the Hong Kong Golf Club, the greens had the players struggling to gauge the approach.

''Very tough conditions today,'' Chawrasia said. ''It's very firm greens, to be honest. I'm just trying to hit the second shot on the green and trying to make it like a two-putt.''

Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open

Shubhankar Sharma and Matthew Fitzpatrick (both 66) were one shot behind, while seven others were tied for fourth a further stroke behind.

''Hit it great tee to green,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I think I had like seven or eight chances inside 15 feet, and on a day like today when it's so windy and such a tough golf course, with how tight it is, yeah, it was a good day.''

Justin Rose, who won the title in 2015, shot was 2 under with five birdies and three bogeys.

''I think the course played a couple shots harder than it typically does,'' Rose said. ''I like this course. I think it offers plenty of birdie opportunities.''

Masters champion Sergio GarciaRafa Cabrera Bello and defending champion Sam Brazel (69) were in a group of 16 at 1 under.

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.