Kim Ready to Reach Potential

By Randall MellMarch 11, 2010, 5:24 am

DORAL, Fla. – Scratch Anthony Kim off your handicap sheet this week. He can’t win the WGC-CA Championship. The event doesn’t suit him.

Or maybe it suits him too well.

That’s the skeptic’s take on Kim’s chances this week despite the promising upturn in the young star’s game.

These folks don’t necessarily believe the TPC Blue Monster is too large a test for Kim. They wonder if South Beach is too much temptation for him. They don’t necessarily believe the famed 18th hole will be his undoing but that Club Mansion, the Mynt Ultra Lounge or Rok Bar might.

Actually, that’s what makes this the perfect place for Kim to send a message.

There’s something different about the 24-year-old two-time PGA Tour winner as he begins his fourth season.

Anthony Kim with driverKim says he’s serious about realizing the vast potential that’s impressed so many of his PGA Tour brethren. There's no way to know a man's heart, but the fact that he has never looked more serious lends credence to his pledge. Kim hit the practice range Wednesday looking trim, fit and strong. He sounds hungry to finish off the impressive starts he’s made in his last two PGA Tour events and claim his first victory in nearly 20 months.

“I’m working hard,” Kim said. “I’m keeping a good attitude. When I do that, my game usually shows up.”

Kim fights the image of a guy who chases fun too deep into the night to be considered a serious threat to the game’s biggest prizes, but he is giving his inner circle reasons to think he’s on the verge of taking his game to another level.

There were double takes at Doral on Monday.

Anthony Kim played nine holes. There were double takes because Kim doesn’t do Mondays. At least he didn’t in his first three seasons on the PGA Tour. He rarely did Tuesdays. But Kim is making a new habit of becoming among the earliest players to show up during the work weeks this year.

“I’m practicing Mondays and Tuesdays instead of just coming out Wednesdays,” Kim said. “I know the more time I put into this, the more success I’ll have.”

Kim gave his caddie, Brodie Flanders, off on Monday and let his swing coach, Adam Schriber, carry his bag. That was significant, too. The fact that Schriber is here is yet another indication that Kim is trying to amp up his commitment. Kim says he’s asking Schriber to spend considerably more time with him at tournament sites this year. Schriber has been out for three of Kim’s four starts.

“I’m super proud of Anthony and the decisions he’s making,” Schriber said. “He’s heading in the right direction. He’s saying all the right things, but he’s a hard kid to push. He has his own timetable.”

Schriber sees Kim putting in the work it takes to consistently contend on Tour.

“He’s been working out like a mad man,” Schriber said. “I think it’s just Anthony maturing and realizing the gift he has.”

Kim finished second to Camilo Villegas at the Honda Classic last weekend despite a 3-over-par 73 on Saturday. He tied for 24th at the Waste Management Phoenix Open despite a 76 in the third round. Kim says he’s working on letting go of the frustration of setbacks like those Saturday scores the past two weeks.

“Even though I didn’t play good at Honda on the third day, I hung in there long enough to where I felt I had a shot on Sunday,” Kim said. “I’m getting closer. If I can just keep hanging in there and have a positive attitude, I’ll be in good shape.”

All this work is pointed toward the Masters and Augusta National, where Kim showed one of his most brilliant flashes of promise last year. His 11 birdies in the second round demonstrated the spectacular possibility in his game. Nobody’s ever made more birdies in a round at Augusta National. Not Tiger Woods, not Jack Nicklaus, not Ben Hogan.

“I don’t think Anthony has shown his A game yet for four rounds on the PGA Tour,” Schriber said. “We’ve talked about that. He’s said, `I haven’t shown my best stuff yet.’ He is determined to show that.”

A victory at Doral may speak to more than the state of Kim’s game but to the seriousness of his commitment. There’s more than the Blue Monster to beat here. There’s South Beach and all the hazards that can test a young star's priorities.

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Molinari reflects on beating Woods at Ryder Cup, Open

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 25, 2018, 9:11 am

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Francesco Molinari might be a useful resource for the European Ryder Cup team.

He’s already beaten Tiger Woods, head to head, at a Ryder Cup and a major.

Molinari was in the anchor match at the 2012 Ryder Cup when Woods conceded on the final hole to give the Europeans an outright victory in the incredible comeback at Medinah. He said the last hole was a “blur,” and it remains the last Ryder Cup that both Molinari and Woods played.

“I’ve improved a lot as a player since 2012,” said Molinari, who lost his previous singles match against Woods in 2010, 4 and 3, “and I hope to show that on the course this week.”

The proof is the claret jug that he now keeps at home.

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To win his first major he needed to not only endure the circus that a Woods group brings, but he needed to outlast the 14-time major champion and a host of other worthy contenders to prevail at Carnoustie.

Reflecting on that momentous day Tuesday, Molinari said he initially was dreading the final-round date with Woods.

“If I’m completely honest, I wasn’t exactly hoping to be paired with Tiger, not because I don’t like to play with him, but because, obviously, the hype and with him being in contention in a major, it’s going to be noisy and it’s going to be a lot of people," he said. 

“So the most challenging part was probably that moment when the draw came out, but then I quickly managed to think, You know, whatever. I don’t really care. I’m here to do a job, and they can’t really influence how I do my job.”  

To thrive in that situation gave Molinari a lot of confidence – especially heading into a pressure-cooker like the Ryder Cup.

Asked whether it’s more pressure trying to win a major or a Ryder Cup – since he’s now done both – Molinari said: “You won’t believe me, but it’s nowhere near. Carnoustie was nowhere near Medinah or in any matching ways. It’s hard to believe, but it’s probably because you play for a team; you play for a continent in our case, and you know about the tradition and what players have done in the past.”

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Woods 25/1 to break Nicklaus' record by age 50

By Will GraySeptember 25, 2018, 9:05 am

With his victory at the Tour Championship, Tiger Woods crept closer to Sam Snead's all-time PGA Tour wins mark. But he also got fans thinking about whether golf's most famous record is once again in play.

Woods has been stuck on 14 career major titles since the 2008 U.S. Open, although he had a pair of close calls this summer. But now that he's again a winner on Tour, oddsmakers at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook created bets on where Woods' career major haul will end up.

The line they drew in the sand? Dec. 30, 2025 - when Woods, now 42, will turn 50 years old.

According to the Westgate, Woods is a -150 favorite to win at least one more major by that time. He's 2/1 to win at least two more, 5/1 to win at least three more and 12/1 to win at least four more. But it'll take five more majors to break Nicklaus' record haul of 18, and the odds on Woods doing that by age 50 are set at 25/1.

There are also odds on Woods' 2019 major prospects, as he's already the betting favorite for the Masters at 9/1. Woods' odds of winning any major next year are listed at +225, while the pessimists can wager -275 that his major victory drought will extend to at least 2020.

There's even a bet for those expecting some serious history: the odds of Woods sweeping all four majors next year at age 43 are 200/1.

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All 12 Europeans have history at Le Golf National

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 25, 2018, 8:55 am

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – The European team has plenty of experience at Ryder Cup venue Le Golf National, which has been the longtime host of the French Open.

The question this week is whether it’ll matter.

The only American player to compete in this year’s French Open was Justin Thomas. Jordan Spieth, Tony Finau and Bubba Watson all got a look at Le Golf National before The Open.

Not surprisingly, the European team has a proven track record here – all 12 players have seen the course at some point. Alex Noren won in July. Tommy Fleetwood is a past champion, too. So is European vice captain Graeme McDowell. Francesco Molinari and assistant Lee Westwood also have runners-up here.

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“I definitely think it’s a help to us, for sure,” Ian Poulter said. “It’s probably the most-played venue as a Ryder Cup venue for all of the European players that have played. So we definitely have a feel of how this golf course has played in very different weather conditions. I definitely think we have an understanding of how this golf course can play.”

Of course, this setup is no different than what players typically experience as they prepare for a major championship. They’ll play 18 holes each of the next two days, then maybe nine holes on Thursday, as they get a feel for the layout.  

“When it’s the best players in the world, and we play on golf courses week-in and week-out where we have to learn a new golf course, it’s difficult to say how much of an advantage it will be,” Fleetwood said. “It can only be a good thing, or it can’t do any harm that we know the course better or that we’ve played it more times.

“Knowledge can only be a good thing. Maybe it’s a little advantage, but it’s the best players in the world that are out here, so it’s not something to look at too much.”

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First-tee grandstand 'biggest you'll ever see'

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 25, 2018, 8:27 am

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – The first-tee nerves could be even more intense this week at the Ryder Cup.

If only because of the atmosphere.

The grandstand surrounding the first hole at Le Golf National is unlike anything that’s ever been seen at this event – a 6,500-seat behemoth that dwarfs the previous arenas.

“It’s the biggest grandstand you’ll ever see at a golf tournament,” Tommy Fleetwood said.

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“It’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t had to hit that tee shot before,” Ian Poulter said. “When I think back (to my first Ryder Cup) in 2004, the stand is nothing like what we have today. So it really is going to be quite a special moment Friday, and it’s going to be very interesting to see.”

Poulter said it’ll be his job to prepare, as best he can, the team’s rookies for what they’ll experience when the first ball goes in the air Friday morning.

“The No. 1 thing I’ve pictured since the Ryder Cup became a goal is that first tee shot,” Fleetwood said. “But nothing prepares you for the real thing. The grandstand is pretty big – there’s no denying that.

“It’s something that everybody wants in their career, so as nerve-wracking as it is, and whatever those feelings are, everybody wants that in their life. So you just have to take it on and let it all happen.”