Anthony Kim finally spoke about his past. But he didn’t divulge everything

Anthony Kim takes questions from the media at LIV Golf Miami

Anthony Kim during his Thursday press conference at LIV Miami.

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Just as you must peel back the layers of an onion to get to its core, the same has been true of Anthony Kim, LIV Golf’s newest recruit, as he has reassimilated to the professional game.

Every week or two, it seems, golf fans get a new piece of the back story behind Kim’s mysterious disappearance from the public eye — but not all of it. The first tightly scripted snippet came in late February in the form of a couple of short-form videos pushed on LIV Golf and Kim’s social channels. Then came insights from LIV CEO Greg Norman, when Norman visited the booth during Kim’s LIV debut in Saudi Arabia. Earlier this week, LIV published a Kim sit-down with David Feherty, in which Kim spoke of “bad people” and “scam artists” with whom he has associated. Then, on Thursday morning in Miami, Kim finally faced the media in his first pull-up-a-chair-mic-in-hand press conference.

Over the course of 30 minutes Kim was humble, honest and largely answered questions head on and from the heart, which is more than you can say for many of his LIV peers, at least when they faced thorny questions in the nascent days of the controversial league. Kim spoke of how the premature birth of his daughter Isabella, who is now a toddler, made him realize he needed to pull his life together so he could be there for her emotionally. He spoke of the waning days of his former playing career when he was so distracted by poor life choices that he didn’t “think about golf” when he was on the course. He spoke of the injures that he assumed had ended his Tour days for good and how he was “completely okay with that.” So much so that Kim unloaded all of his golf gear: “I actually had a Saturday one weekend a few months after I got done playing, and I had probably three or four rooms full of golf stuff, hats, gloves, balls, shoes, clubs, and I texted a hundred people and I said, ‘Just come — whoever gets here fast on Saturday gets to keep it all.’”

Kim spoke of his aging body, of the vast improvements in equipment technology since his heyday and of being all but oblivious to Brooks Koepka’s major prowess. At times it sounds as if the last 12 years have been at best a blur to Kim and at worst a black hole, as if he just emerged from a time vortex. The positive influence his daughter, as well as his wife, Emily, has had on Kim seemingly cannot be overstated. He said Isabella, or Bella, has made him realize that there’s so much more to life than numbers on a scorecard. “I know that whether I make a 15 or whether I make a 3, my daughter is still going to want to eat strawberry ice cream, and I’m going to do that with her,” he said.    

On Thursday, Kim also referenced multiple times the darkness in his past. But this appears to be one area of his life where he is less willing to divulge details, instead leaning on generalities. Kim said he has had “experiences that I wouldn’t wish on anybody,” and that he has dealt with “a lot of trauma.” He said he received “professional help.” Most alarmingly, he revealed that doctors told him that he “may not have much time left,” which he referred to as a “rude awakening.”

But he stopped short of saying exactly what kind of behavior led to that grim prognosis. In his interview with Feherty, Kim said he “didn’t remember” stretches of his 20s, adding, “With the personality that I have, which is an addictive personality, it can get out of hand.” What can get out of hand, though, he didn’t say.

At his Thursday press conference, Kim was asked, if he were to captain a LIV team someday, what would he name it?

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“Maybe Drunk By the Turn,” he said, drawing laughs from the room.

Kim is, of course, entitled to answer those deeply personal questions at his own pace, should he choose to answer them at all. Emerging from the shadows cannot be easy, especially as he’s simultaneously trying to find some semblance of the game that once made him one of the top-10 players in the world. So far, there have been few rounds to celebrate.

More color on Kim’s past struggles sounds likely to come to light in a documentary that he and his team have been shooting. Kim didn’t say when or where that might air but did say the production will help golf fans understand “how low of a point it got, and it will make more sense.” 

“I’m hoping to help other people understand that life can throw a lot of s— at you,” he said. “But you go through tough things and they make you tougher, and you can make it through. Fortunately, I’ve had some great support. The love from my daughter and my wife and my mom have been amazing, and they have helped me through some tough situations, and I look forward to talking more about it with my doc. But for right now, I’m focused on golf and helping others.”

LIV’s Miami event begins Friday at Trump Doral. Kim will play in the first round with Brendan Steele and Marc Leishman.

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