9 things we learned from Anthony Kim’s emotional interview

Pro golfer anthony kim wears sunglasses and stares into space

Anthony Kim will play his first event in America in more than a decade this week at LIV Miami.

LIV Golf

It’s been more than two months since news spread that Anthony Kim was considering a comeback to professional golf after more than 12 years away. In that time, he chose LIV Golf over the PGA Tour, made his debut in Saudi Arabia, carded a few ugly rounds and one sparkling 65. He entered an Asian Tour event in Macau and has shown a few signs of improvement, but one important series of questions has been unanswered the entire time: 

What has he been up to for the last decade-plus, and why is he back now? 

Kim is making his return to competitive golf held in America this week as LIV Golf stages its Miami event at Trump Doral, but before he does so, LIV produced a 20-minute video titled “The Journey Back.” Throughout it, Kim sits down with LIV host David Feherty for an interview about his time away from the game, his battles with off-course issues and injuries, and the renewed purpose he feels competing again. You can watch the video for yourself here. He shared plenty of emotions and introspection about the last 15 years or so of his life. Below are nine things we learned from it. 

1. He can’t discuss his insurance settlement

One of the long-rumored elements of Kim’s disappearance from the game was a reported $10-20 million insurance policy he held in the case of a career-ending injury. For the first time, Kim actually mentioned that the insurance settlement exists.

“I know public opinion is that I took this money and ran and decided I was going to just kinda hang out. But that wasn’t the case at all. I had multiple, multiple surgeries in a few years. And my body still isn’t what it used to be.”

Kim explained that he had additional surgeries beyond the treatment for the achilles tendon injury that initially took him away from the PGA Tour, including on his shoulder and his hand (unclear which shoulder and hand). 

2. He also had a Tiger Woods-like spinal surgery

During a walk and talk at Oklahoma City Country Club, Kim explained to Feherty that he also had a spinal fusion surgery during his time away. That’s the same type of back surgery Tiger Woods resorted to receiving in 2017 when his nerve pain reached a debilitating peak. Kim didn’t detail the fusion surgery beyond that — like which discs would be fused together — but it was a herniated disc that was part of his reason for leaving the Tour in the first place. 

3. He’s battled “dark” moments 

During his playing days, Kim was known for having an active lifestyle off the golf course. He lived lavishly, spending big on parties and luxury items. It was part of his image, too, with big, brash belt buckles and expensive cars. 

“Sure, I was making some money, I was playing some golf, I was traveling the world, but I had no self worth,” Kim said. Feherty asked him how much he enjoyed the good times during his golf career, because there had to be some great highs, right?

“I thought I was having a great time, but I don’t remember any of those times,” Kim said. “When I say that I literally don’t remember any of those times. Because you figure at 23, 24 years old, 22 years old, you’re supposed to be doing these things and it’s OK. But with the personality that I have, which is an addictive personality, it can get out of hand. Unfortunately I was around people that enjoyed the same things, but maybe didn’t have the same opportunities I did. Didn’t have the same responsibilities I did, quite honestly.”

4. His turnaround began in 2022

Kim mentioned numerous times how he was once rudderless and lacking purpose. In his life, golf is both important and not important. But he found actual purpose when his daughter, Bella was born. Becoming a father came as a bit of a surprise, Kim said, in part because doctors told him that he wouldn’t be able to have a child “because of all the things my body’s been through.”

As he said numerous times, much of his inspiration these days is to be the best father he can be, feeling a new sense of meaning for his days when he wakes up each morning. It was a change Kim says he needed, and one that was ushered in via conversations with important people in his life. 

“I knew I’ve needed help for a long time,” Kim said. “I knew I had battles mentally that I never talked about with anybody, and just kept to myself. Through lots of conversations with very important people in my life, I got help and I started to turn my life around about a year and a half ago.”

5. He never “loved” golf

From the outside, it seemed Kim enjoyed his time as a professional golfer. His status in the game grew and grew during his peak, but simmering beneath that was apparently a lack of love for the sport. 

“I have an interesting relationship with golf. I don’t think I ever loved it,” he said. “What’s very weird to me right now is that I am falling in love with the game. That’s such a weird spot for me because golf was filled with pressure. Golf was filled with lots of different emotions for me. Because my family had to go through a lot to get my this opportunity to play golf. So with that added pressure, I was willing to risk a lot more. That was my nature. I was aggressive on the golf course, I was aggressive off the golf course, and that led to my demise.” 

6. He closed much of his social circle

Part of Kim’s settling his life, he says, was due to cutting ties with a lot of people.

“I have shed about 98% of the people that were around me,” Kim said. “I was around some bad people. People that took advantage of me. Scam artists. When you’re 24, 25, even 30 years old, you don’t realize the snakes that are living under your roof. But through the grace of God I’m here, I’m able to tell my story, hopefully inspire other people, and my daughter is going to be proud of me no matter how I play, and that’s the most important thing to me.”

Like much of the interview, the detail stops there. Kim might provide more information later this week, when he gives his first LIV Golf press conference, but there’s also another likely reason for his lack of explanation… 

7. A documentary about his life is coming

Another rumor that circulated around the golf world in recent years was that Kim was going to be involved in a documentary, and confirmation of that arrived Tuesday. Feherty asked Kim for the main storyline of it, and here’s what Kim had to say: 

“There’s a lot of layers to it. It’s been on my mind for a long time. I feel like I have an amazing platform and opportunity, especially with LIV, to be able to share my story and I think it will benefit a lot of people. I’ve had some very low points in my life. I’ve experienced some pretty traumatic things. I hope that I can inspire somebody to dig out of a hole that they maybe don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Ultimately they find some strength in the people around them and some self belief that they can get out of it.”

8. He owned a lot of animals?

One of the first pieces of information conveyed on the video was that Kim’s personal life the last decade or so has involved owning a lot of pets. “I watched a lot of reality TV, ate a lot of food, and really hung out with my animals, and occasionally had a good time,” Kim said. When asked about the pets, Kim said his “animal house, literally and figuratively” was filled with, at one point, six dogs and two monkeys. 

9. His expectations moving forward…

…are purposefully low. Sort of. 

“That’s a tough question,” Kim said when asked what he expects from himself. “I’ve taken 12 years away from the game. Obviously there’s lots of opinions about if I’ve played a lot of golf or not, and the honest answer is no, I have not played any golf. Until about two-and-a-half months ago, or three months ago, when I got the call from Greg [Norman] about possibly playing again.” 

Kim’s form has been about what was expected from the outside. He finished in last place during his first event, and then in 50th out of 54 in his second event. He missed the cut at the Asian Tour event he entered and has now had multiple weeks off ahead of LIV Miami. 

“My expectations are to just take it day by day, work hard and see where that gets me.” 

Feherty pressed to hear more about Kim’s outlook again later in the interview, and received an answer with a bit more optimism. 

“I believe I can absolutely do it at that level again,” Kim said. “I’m prepared more than ever for success. I don’t think in my first career I was. My mistakes are the reason I fell down into this deep hole. Having better people around this time around definitely helps.”

Kim went on to say he has bigger goals for himself, but opts to keep those to himself for now. His next chance to pursue them begins Friday afternoon.

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