Kim reaches 1-year anniversary of last win

By Doug FergusonJune 30, 2009, 4:00 pm
AT&T NationalBETHESDA, Md. ' Anthony Kim pressed a cell phone against his ear as he listened to Tiger Woods, the tournament host of the AT&T National, congratulate him on another impressive victory that seemed to mark the arrival of Americas next great golfer.
 
That was one year and 25 tournaments ago.
 
Kim has yet to pose with another trophy he could call his own. Remember, the Ryder Cup is an exhibition, and no matter how thoroughly the 23-year-old dismantled Sergio Garcia in the leadoff singles match, it was a team effort.
 
Anthony Kim holds the AT&T National champion's trophy in 2008. (Getty Images)
Over the last year, Kim has made news for not remembering how many majors Woods had won, not being fully aware that the automobile industry was hurting, not realizing Colin Montgomerie had been selected Ryder Cup captain for Europe or not knowing Congressional once hosted a U.S. Open or two.
 
Trouble is, he has not made news for what matters.
 
Kim started the season with a runner-up finish at Kapalua. He has not finished in the top 10 anywhere in the world since. So perhaps it was not surprising Tuesday when someone asked him the best thing that has happened to him this year.
 
He thought about this briefly, then smiled.
 
I made it to my 24th birthday, he said.
 
His age should count for something. When he unleashed a bogey-free 65 in the final round at Congressional last year for a two-shot victory, Kim became the first American under 25 since Woods to win at least twice on the PGA Tour in the same year.
 
Woods, who was home in Florida recuperating from reconstructive knee surgery, told him that day to keep working hard and there would be no limits on what Kim could achieve. And it appeared that Kim was headed in that direction.
 
He was in the mix Sunday at Royal Birkdale, his first taste of links golf. He was in the final group at the Canadian Open until he kept his foot on the accelerator through one too many construction zones, as Kim is prone to do. He was a birdie putt away from joining the playoff at the season-ending Tour Championship.
 
And there was that week at the Ryder Cup, where Kim was the life of the party in so many ways.
 
Still, celebrations for his golf have been rare.
 
Kim has dealt with more nagging injuries than he can recite, whether it was his jaw from a horseback riding in New Zealand to the most recent setback, an injury in his left thumb that kept him from making an aggressive pass at the ball.
 
He had to stick with fairway metals at long and soggy Bethpage Black, and he was pleased to finish tied for 16th with those kind of restrictions. He made 11 birdies in the second round at the Masters when he shot 65, but he didnt break par the other three rounds.
 
Its probably been my toughest year on tour, the fact that Ive had these little injuries that have held me back, Kim said. But Im learning more about myself when Im not playing well. Im learning how to play this game. Im learning how to approach different situations when youre not playing you best, and its going to help me when I do start hitting the ball well, and do start putting well, when my game comes together.
 
Kim isnt the only player who has struggled this year.
 
British Open and PGA champion Padraig Harrington has missed his last four cuts. Adam Scott had a hard time breaking 80 a few months ago. Ernie Els hasnt won in 16 months and has fallen out of the top 20.
 
The fact Kim has gone an entire year without winning is a reminder that winning is never easy on the PGA Tour.
 
We live in the era of Tiger Woods, who makes winning look ridiculously easy, Paul Goydos said last week. The more I think about it, the more I feel Tiger Woods is the most underrated player on this tour. You guys have no concept of what he accomplishes on a weekly basis when he plays. Its ridiculous how good he plays.
 
Even with 67 career victories and ' pay attention, Anthony ' 14 majors, Woods conceded that its never easy.
 
I certainly have won my share of tournaments, but Ive lost more than Ive won, he said. And thats the nature of our sport. We do lose a lot of events.
 
Having turned 24 a few weeks ago, time is on Kims side.
 
He is the defending champion at Congressional ' remember, Anthony, it will host the U.S. Open in 2011 ' and winning again will be more difficult this time with his health just now returning and Woods at full strength.
 
It would be easy to speculate that Kim is enjoying fruits more than labor, although only he knows how hard he is working. At least his objectives have not changed.
 
I want to win golf tournaments. Im here to do that, he said. But at the same time, I have so much to look forward to. I heard you dont hit your peak at golf until 31, 33 years old. So I have a long way to go. I have a long career ahead of me. And as long as I stay positive and keep working hard, I should be in pretty good shape.
 

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    Snedeker leads by one heading into final round

    By Associated PressAugust 19, 2018, 3:26 pm

    GREENSBORO, N.C. – Brandt Snedeker took a one-stroke lead into the final round of the weather-delayed Wyndham Championship after finishing the third round Sunday with a 2-under 68.

    Snedeker was at 16-under 194 through three rounds of the final PGA Tour event of the regular season. Brian Gay and David Hearn were at 15 under, with Gay shooting a 62 and Hearn a 64.

    Thirty players were on the course Saturday when play was suspended because of severe weather. After a delay of 3 hours, 23 minutes, organizers chose to hold things up until Sunday morning.

    Snedeker, who shot an opening-round 59 to become just the 10th tour player to break 60, is chasing his first victory since 2016 and his second career win at this tournament.

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    Olesen edges past Poulter in Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayAugust 19, 2018, 3:10 pm

    With only two weeks left in the qualification window, Thorbjorn Olesen is now in position to make his Ryder Cup debut.

    Olesen finished alone in fourth place at the Nordea Masters, two shots out of a playoff between Thomas Aiken and eventual winner Paul Waring. Olesen carded four straight rounds of 68 in Sweden, including a final-round 67 that featured three birdies over his final seven holes.

    It's a tight race for the fourth and final Ryder Cup spot via the World Points list, and Olesen's showing this week will allow him to move past Paul Casey and Ian Poulter, both of whom didn't play this week, into the No. 4 slot. Olesen is now also less than 40,000 Euros behind Tommy Fleetwood to qualify via the European Points list.

    The top four players from both lists on Sept. 2 will qualify for next month's matches, with captain Thomas Bjorn rounding out the roster with four selections on Sept. 4. Poulter and Casey will both have a chance to move back in front next week at The Northern Trust, while the final qualifying week will include the PGA Tour event at TPC Boston and Olesen headlining the field in his homeland at the Made in Denmark.

    Even if Olesen fails to qualify automatically for Paris, the 28-year-old continues to bolster his credentials for a possible pick from his countryman, Bjorn. Olesen won the Italian Open in June, finished second at the BMW International Open three weeks later and has now compiled four top-12 finishes over his last five worldwide starts including a T-3 result at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational earlier this month.

    In addition to the players who fail to qualify from the Olesen-Poulter-Casey trio, other candidates for Bjorn's quartet of picks will likely include major champions Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson.

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    Thompson bounces back from rule violation

    By Randall MellAugust 19, 2018, 2:22 am

    If Lexi Thompson’s trouble in the sixth fairway brought back any painful memories Saturday at the Indy Women in Tech Championship, she shook them off in a hurry.

    If the approach of another rules official amid a spirited run of brilliant play rattled her, she didn’t show it.

    Thompson posted an 8-under-par 64 in the third round despite another awkward rules infraction.

    Her round was impressively bogey free but not mistake free, and so her work will be a little harder Sunday chasing Lizette Salas.

    After incurring a one-shot penalty for violating a local rule in effect for preferred lies, Thompson will start the final round five shots back instead of four.

    She knows she’s fortunate she isn’t six back.

    If a rules official hadn’t witnessed Thompson in the middle of committing the infraction, she could have been assessed an additional penalty shot for playing from the wrong spot.

    Thompson got the penalty after stepping on the 10th tee and blowing her drive right, into the sixth fairway. She got it after picking up her ball over there and lifting, cleaning and placing it. She got it because she wasn’t allowed to do that in any other fairway except for the fairway of the hole she was playing.

    The preferred-lie rule was distributed to players earlier in the week.

    The story here isn’t really the penalty.


    Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship


    It’s Thompson’s reaction to it, because she opened this week in such heartfelt fashion. After skipping the Ricoh Women’s British Open to take a month-long “mental break,” Thompson revealed this week that she has been struggling emotionally in the wake of last year’s highs and lows. She opened up about how trying to “hide” her pain and show strength through it all finally became too much to bear. She needed a break. She also candidly shared how the challenges of being a prodigy who has poured herself into the game have led her to seek therapists’ help in building a life about more than golf.

    That’s a lot for a 23-year-old to unload publicly.

    Last year may have been the best and the worst of Thompson’s career. She said dealing with that controversial four-shot penalty that cost her the ANA Inspiration title, watching her mother battle cancer and losing a grandmother were cumulatively more difficult to deal with than she ever let on. There was also that short missed putt at year’s end that could have vaulted her to Rolex world No. 1 for the first time and led to her winning the Rolex Player of the Year title. She still won twice, won the Vare Trophy for low scoring average and was the Golf Writers Association of America Player of the Year.

    That’s a lot of peaks and valleys for a young soul.

    That’s the kind of year that can make you feel like an old soul in a hurry.

    So seeing a rules official approach her on Saturday, you wondered about Thompson gathering herself so quickly. You wondered what she was thinking stepping up and ripping her next shot 215 majestic yards, about her hitting the green and saving par. You wondered about how she  bounced back to birdie 13 and 14 and finish bogey free.

    With this week’s soul bearing, you wondered a lot about what rebounding like that meant to her.

    We’re left to wonder from afar, though, because she wasn’t asked any of those questions by local reporters afterward. The transcript showed three brief answers to three short questions, none about the penalty or the challenge she met.

    Of course, there were other questions to be asked, because local rules have been an issue this year. Did she read the local notes with the preferred lies explanation? She got hit with another local rules issue in Thailand this year, when she hit her ball near an advertising sign and moved the sign, not realizing a local rule made the sign a temporary immovable obstruction.

    Of course, there were other good stories in Indy, too, with Sung Hyun Park poised to overtake Ariya Jutanugarn and return to Rolex world No. 1, with Salas holding off Park so brilliantly down the stretch Saturday.

    Thompson, though, is the highest ranked American in the world. She’s the face of American women’s golf now. A face more tender, resolute and vulnerable than we have ever seen it.

    Folks along the ropes watching her on the back nine in Indy Saturday got to see that better than any of us.

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    Salas capitalizes on Park gaffe to take Indy lead

    By Associated PressAugust 19, 2018, 2:07 am

    INDIANAPOLIS – Lizette Salas waited patiently for Sung Hyun Park to make a rare mistake Saturday.

    When the South Korean mishit her approach shot into the water on the par-4 16th, Salas capitalized quickly.

    She rolled in her birdie putt then watched Park make double bogey – a three-shot swing that gave Salas the lead and the momentum heading into the final round of the Indy Women in Tech Championship. Salas closed out her 8-under 64 with a birdie on No. 18 to reach 21 under – two shots ahead of Park and Amy Yang.

    “I have been striking the ball really well, and I just had to stay patient,” Salas said. “And yeah, putts dropped for sure. I just really felt comfortable.”

    If she keeps it up one more day, Salas could be celebrating her first tour win since the 2014 Kingsmill Championship and her second overall. With five of the next six players on the leader board ranked in the world’s top 30, Salas knows it won’t be easy.

    The changing weather conditions weather might not help, either. If the forecast for mostly sunny conditions Sunday holds, the soft greens that have kept scores at near record-lows through the first three rounds could suddenly become quicker and less forgiving.

    But the 29-year-old Californian seems to have the perfect touch for this course, which weaves around and inside the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

    She shot three sub-par rounds and finished tied for fifth last year here. This year, she has three more sub-par rounds including a course record-tying 62 on Thursday and has been atop the leader board each of the first three days.

    “I have been so confident the whole year,” Salas said. “I have a different mentality, I’m a different player. So I’m just going to go out and play as if I’m behind.”


    Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship


    Salas’ toughest challenge still could from Park, who spent most of Saturday flirting with a 54-hole scoring record.

    She birdied the last four holes on the front side and made back-to-back birdies on Nos. 13 and 14 to reach 21 under with a chance to become the sixth LPGA player to ever finish three rounds at 23 under.

    The miscue at No. 16 changed everything.

    She never really recovered after dropping two shots, settling for par on the final two holes for a 66 after shooting 68 and 63 the first two days. Yang finished with a 65 after going 68 and 64.

    “I was a little weary with right-to-left wind,” Park said. “I think a little bit of weariness got to me, but overall, it’s OK.”

    Defending champion Lexi Thompson was five shots back after completing the final nine of the second round in 2 under 34 and shooting 64 in the afternoon.

    She made up ground despite being assessed a one-stroke penalty after hitting her tee shot on No. 10 into the sixth fairway and lifting the ball without authority. Rules officials had implemented the preferred lies rule because more than an inch of rain had doused the course.

    Thompson still made her par on the hole though it temporarily broke her momentum after making six birdies on the front nine in her first appearance since taking a monthlong break to recover from physical and mental exhaustion.

    “Twenty-seven holes, I definitely had a few tired swings toward the end,” said Thompson, who finished each of the first two rounds with 68s. “But overall, a lot of positives. I hit it great. I made some really good putts.”

    Three players – Nasa Hataoka of Japan, Jin Young Ko of South Korea and Mina Harigae – were tied at 15 under. Ko started the third round with a share of the lead but had three bogeys in a round of 70.

    Now, all Salas has to do is cash in one more time.

    “I’ve been knocking on the door quite a bit in the last four years, haven’t been able to get it done,” Salas said. “I’ve got good players behind me, I’ve just got to play my game.”