The Wells Fargo Championship being played at Quail Hollow Club this week features the likes of Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Keegan Bradley, Lee Westwood, and Tiger Woods to mention a few. Eleven of this year’s PGA tournament winners will be represented along with nineteen Majors winners. There are also eight past winners including last year’s champ Lucas Glover who is starting to get his game back, and 2008 winner Anthony Kim who at present can only be described as a lost ball in the high weeds.
Ranked 210 on the money list with less than $34,000 in his pocket so far in 2012, Anthony Kim is in serious danger of losing his card. It’s a position the flamboyant, diamond belt-buckled, life of the party, twenty-six year old golf star never envisioned. But, that’s what happens when you finish only two of nine tournaments. He has missed four cuts and was disqualified after shooting a 78 at Riviera and not signing his card.
From an injury standpoint, his troubles started with his left thumb that was operated on in 2010. It cost him a spot on the Ryder Cup team and most of the 2011 season. Then came the right elbow and right wrist. “They” say there is no structural damage that should keep him from playing, but they don’t feel the pain that Anthony says he feels with every swing. It didn’t help the cause when he connected with a rock in San Antonio a couple of weeks ago, sending more shockwaves up his right arm and directly into his fragile ego.
Even his Mom is piling on. "Hey, there's a caddie that said he made $60,000 caddying at my club,” Kim’s mother told Anthony. “The caddie stays at home and works four days a week. He's made $60,000. You've only made $30,000.”
That’s cold, Mom.
Speaking of cold, Anthony lost his bag deal and is now sporting his red Oklahoma Sooners college bag, which brings to mind the wisdom of the old quarterback Bobby Lane who said, “It’s not far from the penthouse to the outhouse.” It's hard to believe that only four years ago, Kim was the rising star. He won Quail Hollow by five shots for his first PGA 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 a catalyst in the American victory.
That was then and this is now. Gone are the entourage, the diamond AK belt-buckles and much of the swagger, all replaced by the locker room whispers asking, “What’s wrong with Anthony?” There are also the doubters who question his dedication, his work habits, and his life style.
Sounding a bit like a guy whistling through the graveyard, Anthony is keeping a stiff upper lip. "It's been a frustrating year, and I'm trying to have a good attitude about it, but it gets tougher and tougher every day. My body has been fine for a long time, but it's been one little thing after another," Kim said. "I hit it better (today) than I've hit it in a long time. To come out here and hit the ball in the middle of the face over and over felt pretty good. I haven't had the opportunity to practice and get better. It's not so much the injuries, but the confidence I get from practicing is what I can't get.
"I feel closer than everyone thinks. I don't see why I can't go out there and shoot in the mid-60s every day. I know I've been closer to shooting 80s than 60s, but I still don't see why I can't shoot good rounds."
Perhaps he’s right, but Quail Hollow and the stellar field that’s assembled for this week’s Wells Fargo Championship seems an unlikely place to go searching for one’s game.
Anthony laughed at his mother’s joke about the caddie making more money the he has this year. Then the smile ran away from his face and he said, "She asked me if I wanted to keep playing golf. She doesn't care if I play golf as long as I'm happy. I told her I plan on being out here a long time. I love playing golf. I love competing.
“I’m okay with where I'm at right now. If I didn't believe I could win out here I wouldn't be here."