It was only a matter of time before Anthony Kim rehabilitated his injured left-hand and regained his momentum as one of the most talented young golfers in the world. He tore through the Old White Course at the Greenbrier Classic Saturday, posting a bogey-free, eight-under-par 62 that propelled him to the top of the leaderboard.
Kim looked back to his happy-go-lucky self on Saturday, striping wedges within a few feet of the cup, draining long putts and erupting in smiles with his old friend and caddie, Brodie Flanders. This player-caddie tandem goes back eight years to when Kim and Flanders competed together for the University of Oklahoma Golf Team. The two have stayed close and established the ideal blend between their friendly and working relationship. As Brodie explained in an interview with NBC Washington in June,
“One thing he [Kim] definitely doesn’t like me doing is talking anything golf swing or technique.”
Perhaps that comfort and complete avoidance of engaging in anything technical has been the key to Kim’s gradual resurgence. Kim’s injury to his left hand in May of 2010 proved debilitating.
After beginning the season with a victory and three top 10’s in his first eight events – highlighted by a record setting performance at the Masters where he posted 11 birdies in his final round to earn a solo 3rd finish – Kim seemed primed for his best season yet on Tour. Unfortunately, the injury kept him sidelined for three months. After returning to competition too early, which he knowingly admits, Kim missed four consecutive cuts and barely managed a single, solid finish the rest of the season.
But anyone who’s followed Kim’s rapid rise in the golf world knew that he was nowhere near done. As an up and comer known for his brash attitude, Kim backed up his reputation with a runner-up finish at his first professional event in 2007, the Shell Houston Open. The following year, now as a full-time member of the PGA Tour, he made 20 of 26 cuts, including 10 top 25 finishes.
Then in 2008, Kim broke through with not just one, but two luminous victories. His first came at what used to be the Wachovia Championship, and then his second just two months later at the AT&T National.
Although he’s had a rough road this season — eight missed cuts, 1 DQ, and a lone top 10 back in January at the Farmers Insurance Open (until a few weeks ago at Royal St. George’s) — Kim looked back to his old tricks Saturday. His ascent from brazen youngster to crafty competitor launched him to the forefront of the golf world three years ago and now the 26-year-old Kim is prepared to reenter the conversation as golf’s ‘next big thing.’
Blending a methodical approach to the game with an aggressive, titanium-denting swing, Kim is thriving off the momentum of a T5 at the British Open and now leads the Greenbrier Classic at -10. He’s a player that grew up in the age of Tiger Woods’ dominance, so he longs for not only the spotlight, but to pummel his competition. His third round 62 was very Tiger-esque and put him in excellent position for a victory Sunday.