Monday, May 5, 2008

Hold Up the Bus on Anthony Kim

Any time a young kid wins - especially someone under the age of 27 - golf writers go nuts and start proclaiming him as the kid who could finally be the one to challenge Tiger Woods. That's why I appreciated this tempered outlook from The State's Bob Spear. Yes, he lauded Kim for a cruising win at the Wachovia. After all, Kim deserved it. But, Spear frames the win properly as a payoff for Kim learning what it takes to win out on Tour and then executing it.

The difference between the Kim of today and the Kim who posted a tie for second in his first PGA Tour tourney late in 2006 is maturity.

Still the youngest player in golf’s major leagues, he has replaced bravado with a quieter confidence. He knows now that one poorly played shot will not ruin a round and has discovered that a triple-bogey is not the worst experience in life.

A double-bogey 6 on the ninth hole during the final round at Hilton Head squashed his chances in the Heritage, but he came back strongly with the three-birdie run.

“There’s a good chance a couple of years ago I might have walked to No. 10 with eight clubs in my bag,” he said.

On Sunday, bogeys did not bother him. He came back from his first hiccup — a poor chip — on the 13th with consecutive birdies. Quail Hollow’s testing finish cost him a couple of strokes, but he was on cruise control by then and calmly marched to the championship, shattering the tourney record by three shots.

“It might have been the best thing to get slapped in the face (in 2007) and realize I can’t win without practice and focus,” he said. “I was an immature kid last year. I feel I have grown up quite a bit.”

Is this the first step of the long journey to his goal, a place among golf’s elite, or is his run-away win a one-week wonder?

“I’d like to keep going and working hard and see how good I can really be,” he said.

Time will provide the answer, but if his future matches the present, he will no longer need an introduction.

This may very well be something that a number of the 20 somethings have to realize in order to keep getting better on Tour. Perhaps, though, it is something that they are already learning as many guys in their 20s are among winners on Tour this season. Rehashing 2002 perhaps?

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