While fact may often be stranger than fiction, myth is almost always more intriguing than truth.
Anthony Kim, the golfer who has gone from phenom to legend to ghost was spotted in the wild this week having a lazy brunch at a West Hollywood hotspot on a lazy afternoon on a lazy April day. His hair was down past his shoulders and his accessory of choice was aviator shades instead of his custom diamond AK belt buckle but it was Anthony Kim just the same.
And sadly he said his golf game is “non-existent”.
Sad for us that is. Rumor has it Kim is sitting on a near $20 million tax free insurance settlement that would vanish if he ever tee’d it up on Tour again.
With 3 wins before age 25 and Top 5 finishes in both the Masters and The Open Kim was certainly on track to be a major player on Tour for years. And he had the one thing that almost every other golfer including Tiger Woods lacked – personality.
AK was bold and brash. He was young. He was Hip Hop. He was everything crusty Country Clubbers hate. And that’s precisely what made him so charismatic.
The stories off the course were even more legendary than the ones on it. Wild Vegas weekends. Parties and groupies. Private jets and luxury suits. Anthony Kim lived the life that every two bit weekend hacker dreams of.
And he had the game on the course to back it all up. Ryder Cup hero. Augusta National record holder.
And then he didn’t.
Injuries took Anthony Kim’s swing and it seems he can’t or doesn’t want to get it back.
What-ifs and could-of-beens are the life blood of sport fandom. Anthony Kim was going to be the new Tiger. And for a brief moment he was. Ten years later golf fans still salivate at the thought of AK teeing it up again.
Is it really better to burn out than fade away?
Like so many golf prodigies Kim was driven hard as a kid by over zealous parents. He was living alone at 16 focused solely on golf. In college he rebelled. Partied hard. In his early years on Tour he ruffled the feathers of the suits in charge.
Maybe he just had enough.
Golf is a game. It’s supposed to be fun. The PGA Tour seems to forget that most of the time. Sure golf has a history of decorum and rules and tradition and that’s great and all but golf is also theater. Walter Hagen knew this. Tiger knows this. Anthony Kim knew it too. He was one helluva a performer. And right now the Tour misses a guy like Kim. The Tour needs an AK and needs one badly. And unfortunately it looks like it will never have Anthony Kim again.
What could have been….