Aug. 29, 2013: So whatever happened to golfer Anthony Kim? This guy is one of the most talented players in the game, but he's disappeared. Hasn't been seen on golf courses, or anywhere else related to the game, for more than a year. Rumors abound of him giving up golf, turning his back on the game, and living the bohemian life on the beaches of California.
AK's Twitter page hasn't been updated since mid-2010. His website is dead and gone.
What's the deal? Will we ever see Anthony Kim on the PGA Tour again?
The answer is probably yes, because Kim's absence is not because he turned his back on golf and walked away from the game - he couldn't, because he couldn't walk anywhere due to a serious injury. More on that in a minute. First, let's review Kim's long history of injuries.
Kim had his breakout victory at the 2008 Wells Fargo Championship, and was a major part of the Team USA victory at the Ryder Cup that year. He was a budding star. He had two wins in 2008, won the 2010 Shell Houston Open and was third in the 2010 Masters.
Then the problems started. First, ligament damage in his thumb, which required surgery in 2010. He returned from that surgery in August 2010 and had middling results the rest of the season.
Kim played a full year in 2011, with some good results, but started suffering from tendonitis in that left thumb and hand. There were other, general aches and pains as well.
After starting the 2012 season slowly, Kim decided to step away from the tour for a (relatively) short time to give the tendonitis time to heal. This is the last most people heard of Anthony Kim: He left the tour, and hasn't been seen since.
But Kim's intention at that point was not to stay away from golf for an extended period, simply to give his body - particularly the thumb - some rest and time to heal.
What happened instead is that, while running on a beach in San Diego as part of a training regimen, Kim suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in his ankle.
That is a major, serious injury. The best athletes in the world take very long recovery times before turning from that injury; some of them never make it back to their previous levels of achievement.
Kim underwent surgery on the Achilles tendon in mid-2012, with a prognosis that he would be out for 9-12 months - a full year. He had to spend the first four months of that time with his foot immobilized in a boot.
So even if Kim's recovery went according to plan, he was going to miss nearly all the 2013 PGA Tour season. But that's only looking at the physical side of things; what about the golf side? Because in addition to the physical rehab, Kim went an extended period of time without being able to practice or play golf. Even if he recovered on schedule from the Achilles injury, his game likely wouldn't be ready for more than a year.
And that's where we are now. It's been more than a year since Anthony Kim was seen on the PGA Tour, and all that most people remember is that he left the tour in 2012 to rest an achy thumb.
There have been some Kim sightings on various California beaches; he's surfing, so his Achilles must be feeling OK; he's grown his hair long.
There is no public indication from Kim or anyone around him that he's given up golf. He got through the physical recovery; now he has to achieve a recovery of his golf game.
The earliest we could possibly see Kim now back on tour is in October at the start of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season, but it could also be a much longer absence.
Update: Obviously, the longer Kim goes unseen, the greater the possibility becomes that we'll never seen him again on the PGA Tour. Are we there yet? No: Early in 2014, representatives with IMG, Kim's management company, indicated that he is still working toward a comeback. What causes increasing speculation that Kim will never return to the PGA Tour, though, is not so much that he hasn't yet gotten back, but rather that he's been completely invisible during his long absence. If you have any updates to share, please do so in comments.
April 28, 2014: John Hawkins of Golf Channel has an update on Kim's status, and Kim fans won't be encouraged by it. Hawkins quotes Kim's agent, Clarke Jones, saying this: "I'm hopeful it will be in 2014. Anything other than that is a guess, and I don't like to guess. He's a marvelous talent, but it has been a long time. There’s no denying that."
I’ve known Jones for much longer; he’s as straight-up a man as anyone in his occupation can possibly be. I sensed his reluctance to answer questions regarding Kim. Not because he’s hiding anything, but because there are no answers, no timetable, nothing to report.
... In search of something resembling context, I asked Jones if Kim was playing any golf, even recreationally.
Doesn’t sound like much of a comeback, if you ask me. “He’s not living under a bridge, he’s not living in a box,” Jones added. “I’m going to go see him [in Texas] in a few weeks, and at that point, I’ll get a better definition of where he stands.”
Sept. 17, 2014: The Sept. 22, 2014 issue of Sports Illustrated includes an article about Kim by Alan Shipnuck. Shipnuck quotes several people who've run into Kim at golf courses, such as Phil Mickelson, and who confirm that he is, in fact, playing golf.
But the article's bombshell is an assertion by an anonymous "friend" of Kim's that Kim's absence from golf is about a disability insurance policy that could pay off around $15 million if Kim fails to return to Tour within a given time frame (the time frame would, of course, be specified in the insurance policy, but is not specified in the Shipnuck article). Read the article