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Phil Mickelson Delivers 7-Word Verdict on Anthony Kim’s Comeback Ahead of LIV Golf Jeddah

Published 02/29/2024, 9:44 PM EST

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Close your eyes and it would seem you are in 2012. Anthony Kim still has that signature charm that even pro golfers are not immune to. Perhaps that’s not a doubt when you return to the field after 12 years of self-imposed exile. Even Phil Mickelson, who is quite charismatic himself, believes in Kim’s appeal.

Lefty is not the only one, of course. Graeme McDowell is another who believes in Kim’s ‘transcendental’ power. The two LIV Golf pros weighed in about Kim’s return ahead of his LIV Golf Jeddah debut.

Phil Mickelson loves Kim’s swagger

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Phil Mickelson was glowing when speaking about Anthony Kim. “He’s got a charisma.” The Lefty believes that “the world of golf is drawn to him.” Phil Mickelson and Anthony Kim played together in the latter’s only Ryder Cup appearance. The 2008 Valhalla outing is famous for Kim’s 5&4 drubbing of Sergio Garcia. Despite being only 23, Kim was the “off-the-course team leader” as the captain Paul Azinger would later recount.

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Mickelson adds, “Not many people have that charisma that he has. To have his swagger and his game back is exciting.” Graeme McDowell, who will tee off alongside Kim at the eighteenth hole, shares a similar sentiment. “He’s an enigma that people love. It’s like the legend has grown over the last 12 years. I think we’re all excited to see where the game is. Has he still got that fire?” 

That’s a question fans want an answer to as well. His swing has got everybody impressed including a golf instructor who compared it to Rory McIlroy’s. But Anthony Kim or ‘AK, as he was called, represented more than just golf. The swagger—belt buckles with his initials carved on them, his fondness for partying, and talk show appearances—was not previously seen in golf. 

Recounting that, McDowell told livgolf.com, “He was one of those golfers that transcended the sport a little bit. He brought in other fans that were not your conventional golf fans. But he’s a non-conventional golfer. Super-excited. Great dynamic. Excited to see how he does,” added the Northern Irish Pro. From the other side of the frontier, many of his PGA Tour peers too chimed in. 

What PGA Tour pros said about Anthony Kim

Rickie Fowler is one of the players who will keep an eye on Kim. The six-time PGA Tour winner is playing at the Cognizant Classic. Speaking from Stateside, Fowler said, “He was one of those guys when you’d walk by that made that sound. There’s few guys that make other players’ heads turn. He was one of those ones, and he’s obviously very talented.” 

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Just how talented? Brian Harman, last year’s Open champion, weighed in earlier. “AK is probably, I mean, if he’s not the best, he’s top three, like, most talented, just top-to-bottom golfer ever… Everyone asks, ‘Who’s the best player you ever played with?’ And I’m like, Anthony Kim, and they’re like, ‘What?’ Like, I’m not kidding you. Day in, day out, it was just a joke.

Hunter Mahan, another of Kim’s Ryder Cup teammates, was lost for words. “It’s hard to tell people how good he was.” Mahan, who also played with Kim in the Presidents Cup, told Golf.com, “He really wanted to beat your brains in. Like he really enjoyed just beating you. There was sort of a Tiger thing with him. He was not afraid of competition from anybody.

The lore of Kim has only grown by leaps and bounds since his absence. Only twice was he spotted, and only once has he spoken himself. That 2015 Associated Press interview remains his last media interaction to date. So much so, that he has surpassed many of the current LIV players as bettor’s favorite, ranking over Phil Mickelson, in fact.

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Written by:

Parnab Bhattacharya

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One take at a time

Parnab Bhattacharya is a Beat Writer at EssentiallySports in the Golf Division. With four years of writing experience, he is now exploring his deep-rooted love for the gentleman’s sport. Parnab's area of expertise is his predictive and perspective pieces, where he explores all things golf, diving deep into the whys and whats behind players' and Tours' moves in the sport, and unflinchingly voicing his take.
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