The PGA Tours Anthony Kim, once considered the future of US golf, could be referred to as a mythical creature whose existence is believed but cannot be validated. Kim has not played in a PGA Tour event since withdrawing from the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship due to tendinitis in his left arm. He also suffered another setback after he tore his Achilles and has not played a competitive round on tour since 2012.
Kim is known for being a high rolling, fun having, and emotionally charged lover of life. Kim, who is only 29, has been known to play in some large private poker games, enjoy the beaches on foreign soil and just soak in the celebrity that came with being a young, talented and successful tour professional.
For those that do not remember the budding career of the youngster filled with swagger and aggressive play, you can look to 2008. In 2008, Kim made north of $4.7 million while winning at Quail Hollow and Congressional. Also, as a Ryder Cup rookie, he showed no fear going out and winning the opening singles match on Sunday, a position normally reserved for a bigger name as the final days table setter. With ice water in his veins and an aggressive approach that could only be expected from a youngster, he throttled Sergio Garcia, winning 5-and-4, en route to the last time the United States won the Ryder Cup.
Fast forward to today and the enigma that has become Anthony Kim. He has not played in years and people are wondering where the former US star in the making has gone. Well it appears that the vault that contained the whereabouts of Anthony Kim and the crystal ball that will determine his future have been uncovered, even if only a little bit.
It comes down to the almighty dollar, to be more specific, $20 million of them. Kim has an insurance policy and that insurance policy will pay handsomely for a career ending injury. That policy is tax free which means you are talking a comparative amount in the neighborhood if $28-$30 million in actual money earned. According to a friend of Kim’s that spoke with Sports Illustrated Alan Shipnuck:
“AK’s not injured,” says the friend. “He can play, he can walk. His swing looks good, the strike sounds solid, his ball flight is good. His physical health is not the issue.”
If you believe that, there are a few questions here in the black hole that is the future of Anthony Kim that need resolution. I have attempted to track down who issued the insurance policy in order to get a concrete definition of “career ending injury.” There is no luck to date but an assumption would be that the injury would have to be serious enough to mitigate his ability to ever play golf again. Clearly that is not the case with injuries that required surgery to resolve or that can respond to rest and rehabilitation. In short, if he is capable of playing the game then the policy would not be paid. So, if the friend is correct then it appears he would not be able to collect.
Also, if Kim was able and had the want to play again, the $28-$30 million would not balance out for what he could be making on the course. Kim is 29 and would probably have 11+ years of more competitive golf left in him at a minimum. Prior to the injury, he made over $12 million in career earnings which also does not include the huge deal he signed with Nike. So the idea that the policy is keeping him off the course does not make sense. Kim is flamboyant, compelling and a player the fans love. That recipe is what sponsors want to attract the crowds of shoppers alike, to think he would pass up a probably total payday around $60-$100 million if he was able to play is ludicrous to me.
I believe this comes down to one of two possible scenarios. First, the one that nobody seems to want to acknowledge is that Kim is still not fully recovered. He could still be recovering, he could have injured something else during rehab, or a doctor might not have cleared him to play again. While he does not need a doctors blessing to return to the course, he might want that confirmation before coming back and possibly getting hurt again. Remember, Kim has suffered a few injuries in his young career. While I know 2012 seems like a long time removed, it is possible the Achilles is not fully healed. Remember nagging injuries do happen and players can reinjure themselves easily, even in golf.
Also, there is another possible scenario. Kim just does not want to play the game anymore. Maybe he burnt himself out, maybe he found something he loves more or possibly maybe he just had time to reflect, while injured, and just wants to leave the game behind. Is it likely? Probably not but when you have millions in the bank you are afforded the luxury of making those types of decisions. At 29 years old, Kim knows he does not need the money, even though his previous lifestyle says otherwise. He also knows that golf affords him the opportunity that no other sport can offer. He could take months, years or even decades off and still be able to return to competitive golf. Would this be unfortunate? Of course, for all of us it would be, but if that is a choice Kim makes then all should accept it and let the man be.
The reality is that nobody knows what has come of the talented Anthony Kim. But I proposed some possible scenarios and the rational why he is not on the course. I also wanted to shed a bit of light on why I do not think he would be able to collect the insurance policy, even if he wanted to. Research will continue and we will find the cause but until then take these options as possible and look into a magic eight ball, shake it up, and see what appears next.