Here’s how the golf world looked when Anthony Kim last played

Pro golf composite image featuring Anthony Kim at the center

A lot has changed in the golf world since Anthony Kim last played.

Getty Images/GRAPHIC: Adam Christensen

After nearly 12 years — 4,320 days to be exact — Anthony Kim will return to pro golf when he tees it up in LIV Golf’s Jeddah event in Saudi Arabia.

Obviously, he’ll be entering a completely different world of professional golf.

Kim’s last competitive experience came on Thursday, May 3, 2012, at the Wells Fargo Championship. He pulled out before the second round, citing a wrist injury after shooting 74 Thursday.

First and foremost, the tour Kim is making his comeback on, LIV Golf, hadn’t even been dreamed up by his last start. The earliest proposal for the World Golf Series, the idea that eventually became LIV Golf, wasn’t even drafted by Andy Gardiner for another two years.

Of course, that’s not the only thing that’s changed in the decade-plus Kim has been away from the game.

Here are nine other major changes to the golf world since Anthony Kim last played.

Vastly different OWGR

Just one player from the top 20 in the Official World Golf Ranking from the week after Kim’s last round is still there today. And he’s not too far off from where he was.

The then-reigning U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy was the No. 1 player in the world in the 2012 Week 18 rankings. McIlroy was only two months removed from ascending to the world’s top spot for the first time after holding off Tiger Woods down the stretch for the 2012 Honda Classic title.

McIlroy lost in a playoff to Rickie Fowler at the Wells Fargo in Kim’s last start, solidifying his place atop the ranking. He would later win his second major that summer at the 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island.

The golfer he supplanted and was still battling for the world’s top spot? Eventual 2023 Ryder Cup captain and this week’s NBC guest analyst for the Cognizant Classic, Luke Donald.

Eight players in the 2012 top 20 now play for LIV Golf. Among them, Dustin Johnson has the best chance of still being in the top 20 today had he not joined the league which doesn’t award world ranking points.

A more organic Tiger

You’ll find Tiger Woods at No. 7 in the world when Anthony Kim last teed it up in 2012. That year was another comeback season for Woods as he won for the first time since 2009 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and then won twice more before regaining the top spot in the rankings in 2013.

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This was also before any of his back surgeries or 2021 car crash.

It wasn’t until 2014 when Woods underwent his first back surgery for a pinched nerve causing him to miss the Masters for the first time as a pro. Since then, he’s had four additional back surgeries and several surgeries on his right leg and foot in the wake of his single-car crash in February 2021. Those procedures left Woods with a rod, screws and pins in his right leg to stabilize it.

Today’s stars were still in school … some grade school

Jordan Spieth holds the 2012 U.S. Open Low Amateur medal.
Jordan Spieth was low am at the 2012 U.S. Open. Andrew Redington/Getty Images

While McIlroy was already at the forefront of the global stage, many of today’s stars were still in varying levels of school.

Current World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler won the first of three consecutive Texas state high school golf titles in 2012 as a sophomore at Highland Park High School in Dallas.

A 17-year-old Jon Rahm was a part of the Spanish team that was the reigning European Boys’ Team Championship winners.

Justin Thomas (R) of the United States Team celebrates with teammate Jordan Spieth (L) after Spieth holed out on the 15th green to win the match 4&3 over Hideki Matsuyama of Japan and Taylor Pendrith of Canada and the International Team during Saturday afternoon four-ball matches on day three of the 2022 Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow Country Club
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The iconic high school class of 2011 which includes Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele, Daniel Berger, Patrick Rodgers, Ollie Schniederjans, Emiliano Grillo and more were all finishing up their freshman years of college. Schaffuele hadn’t even made the move to San Diego State yet, where he would set multiple school records before turning pro.

Tom Kim — who we remind you already has three PGA Tour wins, the same number as Anthony Kim — was a month and a half shy of his 10th birthday. Rose Zhang turned nine later in May.

Lydia Ko and Brooke Henderson were both 14-year-old amateurs but each won professional events in 2012, with Henderson breaking Ko’s record as the youngest player to win a pro tournament. However, Henderson won her title on the Canadian Women’s Tour in June, a month after Kim’s final PGA Tour round.

One star who wasn’t in school was Lexi Thompson. In May 2012, Thompson, then 17, was in her first season as an LPGA member after successfully petitioning the Tour to allow her to qualify for membership before she turned 18.

Nike still made golf clubs

Not only was Kim (and Tiger Woods!) wearing Nike clothes when he last played, he was also playing Nike golf clubs.

Nike didn’t leave the hard goods business for another four years!

TaylorMade Golf was also still part of Adidas. That spin-off didn’t happen until 2017 when Adidas sold the golf club company to KPS Capital Partners.

You could anchor your putter

Webb Simpson used a belly putter at the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship. He won the U.S. Open a month later. John D. Simmons/Charlotte Observer/Tribune News Se

Belly putters and broomstick-style putters that you used by anchoring your top hand to your chest were all the rage in 2012.

Keegan Bradley had just become the first player to win a major with an anchored putter at the 2011 PGA while using a belly putter. Bill Haas won that year’s Tour Championship and FedEx Cup and the week after Kim’s final start, Matt Kuchar won the Players with a belly putter.

Three of the first four majors after Kim’s last start (2012 U.S. Open, 2012 Open and 2013 Masters) were all won by players using anchored putters.

However, the USGA quickly set the wheels in motion to end the practice, introducing a proposal to ban anchored strokes in November 2012 that would ultimately go into effect Jan. 1, 2016.

These days, anyone using a broomstick putter must keep their top hand away from their chest.

When Kim left competitive golf in May 2012, his entrance into the PGA Championship was not an immediate concern.

That’s because the PGA was still played in its traditional spot in August. The tournament moved to May in 2019 to accommodate the PGA Tour’s desire to finish its season before Labor Day Weekend. The tournament has been played in May every year since, except 2020 when it was delayed back to August due to COVID-19.

The Players Championship was actually the week after the Wells Fargo as that event was in May until it was moved back to March in 2019 to make way for the PGA move.

Same Tours, different sponsors

When Anthony Kim last played on the PGA Tour, the PGA Tour’s highest-level developmental circuit was still called the Nationwide Tour. Website building company took over the title sponsor for the Tour a month later in June.

Korn Ferry Tour Logo
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The Tour name stuck until June 2019 when Korn Ferry Consulting became the title sponsor for the Tour. Kim only ever played two events in his career on the developmental tour.

The DP World Tour was also still *officially* called the European Tour, as it had been since its inception in 1972. Dubai-based logistics company DP World only took over the title sponsorship of golf’s second-biggest global tour in 2021.

Q-School as it was meant to be

PGA Tour Q-School, the method Kim used to earn his PGA Tour card in 2006, was still one of the primary methods for gaining PGA Tour membership in 2012.

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It was the last year for the six-round grind version of the qualifying tournament that awarded Tour cards to the top 25 players and ties.

Changes to the Tour’s structure and Q-School were announced in March 2012, and 2013 Q-School saw only Tour status awarded.

The PGA Tour walked that change back for last December’s event, with the low five players and ties earning cards on the “big tour,” but after just 72 holes.

No wrap-around

While the PGA Tour ditched its wrap-around schedule model for 2024, it hadn’t even been implemented in 2012. The first wrap-around season began in 2013 for the 2013-14 season as announced in 2012.

Anthony Kim never played in a fall event that counted for the next season. He has no idea what he was missing!

Jack Hirsh Editor

Jack Hirsh is an assistant editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is a 2020 graduate of Penn State University, earning degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. He was captain of his high school golf team and recently returned to the program to serve as head coach. Jack also still *tries* to remain competitive in local amateurs. Before joining GOLF, Jack spent two years working at a TV station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as a Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but also producing, anchoring and even presenting the weather. He can be reached at