Kim the Next Big Thing


The Next Big Thing is Anthony Kim.
Yes, weve heard that before about other players.
Yes, we probably hear it too often.
Theres nothing quite like the glow of a first PGA TOUR win to bathe a player in a light that makes you think that a particularly promising one will win again and again and again.
And right now Kim, a 22-year-old American, whose mental approach has matured even faster than his game, is that player after a tour de force victory at the Wachovia Championship at Quail Hollow Sunday.
And right now there is every indication that, at the end of the year, Kim will be more than The Flavor of the Month.
Meanwhile there is a backlit back story that cant be ignored here: Players in their 20s have won five of the last six PGA TOUR events and eight over-all this year. And we havent even reached mid-May.
Kim won in North Carolina because he hits it long off the tee, putts like a dream'needing only 11 with the flat stick in an outgoing 32 Sunday'and isnt afraid to shape or flight any shot at any time. He now finds himself in fast company.
Here are the names of a few players who won PGA TOUR events before their 23d birthdays: Lanny Wadkins, Ben Crenshaw, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Severiano Ballesteros, Sergio Garcia. The list is short and it is elite.
Im glad Im here, Kim said moments after his five-shot win over Ben Curtis. I loved what I was doing.
Kims lead was four after 54 holes and Saturday night, after blazing to a third round 66, he said, matter-of-factly, Hopefully I can play a little better tomorrow.
Those are the kinds of things Next Big Things say without having to think about it.
Then Kim was asked about the remarkably fast attitude adjustment that has transformed him from a cocky hothead to a pulled-together TOUR winner. As recently as six months ago, he said, If I didnt hit a good, I thought my life was over.
Now his career on big stages appears to be just beginning. But it is a mistake to think Kim, despite his young age, arrived in golf just this year. Brandt Snedeker beat him out for Rookie-Of-The-Year in 2007. But Kim tied for seventh at Wachovia last year, and tied for third at Zurich. Prior to Sunday this year, he already had tied for second at Verizon and tied for third at the Bob Hope. He has now made 29 cuts in 39 TOUR starts including a T2 at the 2006 Valero Texas Open, his very first start in golfs Big Show.
Suddenly Kim finds himself in the top five in the FedExCup point standings and a front-and-center candidate for Paul Azingers American Ryder Cup team in the fall. Kim, an American citizen, was born in Los Angeles and resides in Dallas.
The walk up the 18th hole (with a big lead) was the best feeling in my entire life, he said. And Ill never forget the feeling. I had chills going up and down my spine. I want to re-create that as many times as possible now, so Im going to work really hard.
I was an immature kid last year, Anthony Kim said late Sunday.
Now he is The Next Big Thing.
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt