Anthony Kim is a wise young man. He listens to his mother.
After shooting a second-round 81 at the recent RBC Canadian Open and being disqualified for signing a scorecard with a lower number, Kim had an earnest discussion with one of his closest advisors, his mother, Myryoung.
“It was just about having fun and relaxing and enjoying the position I’m in,” Kim said. “Because I’m very fortunate to be playing golf for a living, and sometimes you forget about that. I was pretty upset about my 81, and she noticed somebody in the gallery who was less fortunate and we talked about that.”
In 2008, his second full PGA Tour season, Kim won twice and was being hailed as one of the game’s new young faces. Kim, who turned pro in 2006 after three seasons at the University of Oklahoma, is still young — he’s 26 — but the past two seasons have been filled with injury and inconsistent play.
Aside from a torrid five-tournament stretch in early 2010, which included a playoff win at the Shell Houston Open and a third-place finish at the Masters, Kim had surgery to repair torn ligaments at the base of his left thumb in March of last year.
His subsequent recovery has been partly to blame for his mediocre play, but Kim admits his mindset was misaligned. A few heart-to-heart conversations with mom and a few good rounds — and tournament finishes — have Kim thinking he has weathered the so-called slump.
“It’s absolutely on an upside,” said Kim of his game. “I can’t tell you the last time that I ever played golf where I was not wanting to be on a golf course, but for the last six months before the British Open, I just did not want to be on the golf course.
“I didn’t know where the ball was going, and I was just hoping it would bounce out of the trees. It wasn’t a matter of it going in the rough, it was a matter of it bouncing in or out of bounds. People may think I’m exaggerating, but this is how tough this game got for me. Going back to the basics is really what helped my game. Without that, I would still be struggling.”
If Kim has learned anything about himself, about this fickle game, then it is how fleeting success can be.
“I always had belief in my ability and confidence that I would keep trying, no matter how many times I would fail,” he said. “But you never know with this game. You never know if you’re going to come back and not be able to hit a fade, not be able to hit the bunker shots like you’re used to hitting.”
Perhaps too slowly for his liking, Kim, though, is finding out he can come back.
Stuart Hall is editor of the Golf Press Association.