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.''

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Aggressiveness pays off for Spieth vs. Schwartzel

By Rex HoggardMarch 21, 2018, 9:32 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – On Tuesday, Jordan Spieth said he hoped this week’s format would free him up and allow him to play more aggressively.

Although that wasn’t the case early in his Day 1 match against Charl Schwartzel, Spieth was able to get his week off to a solid start with a 2-and-1 victory.

After playing his first nine holes in even par, Spieth moved ahead in the match when Schwartzel made bogey at the par-5 12th hole and the American hit his approach at the par-4 13th hole to 3 feet, a shot he said was “pivotal,” and he added another birdie at the 14th hole to pull away.

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

“I had a couple of iffy numbers and some swirly winds. I did not play aggressively,” Spieth said of his opening nine. “Once I got a couple numbers where I could put really nice, solid swings on, zeroed in at the target with no worry about anything else around, I did just that and it led to three or four birdies from the eighth hole on. You have to go at flagsticks to make birdies here.”

The early victory puts Spieth on a collision course with Patrick Reed, who also won his first-day match against HaoTong Li, 3 and 2. Spieth and Reed, who are a combined 7-2-2 when teamed together in the Ryder and Presidents Cup, will play each other in the final day of round-robin play on Friday.

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List takes Thomas to 18 putting with a wedge

By Rex HoggardMarch 21, 2018, 7:57 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – As he walked off the sixth tee on Wednesday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Luke List “swiped” his putter into what he thought was a bush. It was a wall.

List’s putter bent slightly, which meant he wasn’t allowed to employ it the rest of the round. Using a wedge to putt, he lost his opening-day match to Justin Thomas, 2 down.

“Stupid on my part,” List said. “I'll get the club fixed and go on to my next two matches.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

Despite his putting disadvantage, List pushed Thomas to the 18th hole thanks to birdies at Nos. 13, 15 and 16, which included a chip-in from 18 feet at 15. Thomas was 3 up with four holes to play and managed to birdie the last, but it was far from stress-free.

“I was thinking about it, how bad that would hurt if I couldn't get it done,” Thomas said. “He hit some great putts and he made some good ones when he needed to.”

The situation also prompted Thomas to change his strategy on the greens, with not nearly as many conceded putts as normal.

“He putted probably two or three putts I wouldn't have made him putt with a putter,” Thomas said. “[No. 13] was a short putt he's probably going to make. It had a lot of break. But 12, that putt was 2 feet straight uphill. But I was like he's got a wedge, so I'm going to make him putt it.”

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Group standings at WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 21, 2018, 7:45 pm

Here are the group standings for pool play at the 2018 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship in Austin, Texas. The player with the most points in each pool advanced to Saturday's Round of 16 in Austin, Texas. Click here for scoring and click here for the bracket.

Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4
(1) D. Johnson: 0-1-0 (2) J. Thomas: 1-0-0 (3) J. Rahm:  (4) J. Spieth: 1-0-0
(32) K. Kisner: 0-0-1 (21) F. Molinari: 1-0-0 (28) K. Aphibarnrat (19) P. Reed: 1-0-0
(38) A. Hadwin: 0-0-1
(48) P. Kizzire: 0-1-0 (43) C. Reavie (34) H. Li: 0-1-0
(52) B. Wiesberger: 1-0-0
(60) L. List: 0-1-0 (63) K. Bradley (49) C. Schwartzel: 0-1-0
Group 5 Group 6 Group 7 Group 8
(5) H. Matsuyama: 1-0-0 (6) R. McIlroy: 0-1-0 (7) S. Garcia (8) J. Day: 1-0-0
(30) P. Cantlay: 0-1-0
(18) B. Harman (20) X. Schauffele (25) L. Oosthuizen: 1-0-0
(46) C. Smith: 1-0-0 (44) J. Vegas (41) D. Frittelli (42) J. Dufner: 0-1-0
(53) Y. Miyazato: 0-1-0 (51) P. Uihlein: 1-0-0 (62) S. Sharma (56) J. Hahn: 0-1-0
Group 9 Group 10 Group 11 Group 12
(9) T. Fleetwood: 0-1-0 (10) P. Casey (11) M. Leishman: 0-1-0 (12) T. Hatton: 1-0-0
(26) D. Berger: 0-1-0 (31) M. Fitzpatrick (23) B. Grace: 0-1-0 (22) C. Hoffman: 0-1-0
(33) K. Chappell: 1-0-0 (45) K. Stanley (35) B. Watson: 1-0-0 (36) B. Steele: 1-0-0
(58) I. Poulter: 1-0-0 (51) R. Henley (64) J. Suri: 1-0-0 (55) A. Levy: 0-1-0
Group 13 Group 14 Group 15 Group 16
(13) A. Noren: 1-0-0 (14) P. Mickelson: 0-1-0 (15) P. Perez: 0-1-0 (16) M. Kuchar: 0-0-1
(29) T. Finau: 1-0-0 (17) R. Cabrera Bello (24) G. Woodland: 0-1-0 (27) R. Fisher: 0-1-0
(39) T. Pieters: 0-1-0 (40) S. Kodaira (37) W. Simpson: 0-1-0 (47) Y. Ikeda: 1-0-0
(61) K. Na: 0-1-0 (59) C. Howell III: 1-0-0 (50) S.W. Kim: 0-1-0 (54) Z. Johnson: 0-0-1
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Hot Seat: The driver is burning Tiger

By Randall MellMarch 21, 2018, 6:51 pm

The men’s first major championship of the year is two weeks away, the women’s just a week away.

Here’s our Hot Seat lineup with the approach of the Masters and the ANA Inspiration in mind:

Smoking carbon composites – Tiger Woods

Woods is the betting favorite to win the Masters in most sportsbooks, and while his game is coming together quickly, he won’t be the experts’ pick without getting his driver under control.

The driver looks like the last piece Woods needs to once more become the favorite wherever he goes.

Right now, though, there’s an open wound that needs to be cauterized before he heads to Augusta National.

That double-cross Woods blew into someone’s backyard along the 16th hole Sunday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational came from a reservoir of uncertainty that his driver continues to create. 

Woods has come a long way with his driver. When he pulls it out of the bag, it isn’t like he’s ripping a bandage off anymore, not the way it was three and four years ago. Still, he doesn’t pull that club with the same relish Rory McIlroy does, or Dustin Johnson and Jason Day, for that matter. Physically and psychologically, they’ve got an advantage on him until he does. 

Woods did not qualify for this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship, so he’s got extra time to address his biggest shortcoming.

“Project No. 1 over the next two weeks is going to be the driver,” Golf Channel’s Notah Begay said earlier this week. “Tiger has to focus in on trying to find some way to navigate Augusta National with the driver, because it’s a course that’s going to force you to hit driver.”

Dustin Johnson at the 2018 WGC-Mexico Championship.

Smoldering Tex Mex Tango – Dustin Johnson

The world No. 1 is playing just fine enough since his victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions at year’s start. He’s just been overshadowed by the brilliance of a lot of fellow stars.

With McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and Justin Thomas all winning in the last month, with Woods stepping up his game, Johnson has been quietly toiling toward the Masters.

Johnson has won 10 times since Woods' last victory, and yet Woods is the 8-to-1 favorite to win the Masters.

Johnson, McIlroy and Thomas are listed at 10-to-1 by the Westgate Las Vegas SportsBook.

It doesn’t rankle Johnson.

“It’s fine with me,” he said Tuesday. “He’s playing pretty well.”

Even as the defending champ this week at the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Texas, Johnson isn’t center stage, not with McIlroy marching into town off his dominant finish at the API.

Flying relatively under the radar might seem like a comfortable position for a world No. 1, but he won’t stay atop the world rankings for long flying under the radar.

Shanshan Feng during Round 2 at the 2017 Japan Classic.

Rolex Ranking Roast – Shanshan Feng

The women’s Rolex world No. 1 enters the week at the Kia Classic trying to hold off a strong field with the ANA Inspiration looming next week.

The top seven players in the world rankings, and 11 of the top 12, are at Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad, California.

Feng has quietly reigned atop the world rankings for 19 consecutive weeks, holding off bids to overtake her by No. 2 Lexi Thompson, No. 3 So Yeon Ryu and No. 4 Sung Hyun Park.

They’ve all been close enough in world ranking average this year to take the top spot, but Feng isn’t backing down. She’s winless so far this this year, but she has finished fifth or better in two of her three starts.