‘Loch Ness Monster returns’: Anthony Kim’s debut is finally here

anthony kim waits on the tee during a liv golf practice round

Anthony Kim waits on the tee during a pro-am at LIV Golf Jeddah at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club on Thursday in King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia.

Charles Laberge/LIV Golf

In less than 24 hours, Anthony Kim will put pencil to scorecard and finally jot down golf scores in an official golf tournament.

If it still feels surreal, that’s because it should. For years, Kim’s comeback story was nothing more than a longing thought, or a rumor that never had legs. It was only last month when GOLF reported Kim was mulling a comeback, which was followed by more silence as we waited for an official announcement.

But now things are moving quickly. Kim’s in Jeddah for LIV Golf’s third event of the season, with his first competitive round since the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship (May 3, 2012) kicking off at 3:15 a.m. ET on Friday (or 11:15 a.m. local, in Saudi Arabia). He’ll start on the 18th hole alongside Graeme McDowell and Cameron Smith. (Here’s how to watch.)

While there’s been little (or no) discussion of Kim in LIV press conferences this week — a LIV representative told GOLF.com that no U.S. media is on-site — Mike McAllister, the editorial director of LIV Golf, spoke with a handful of players ahead of Kim’s first start.

“The Loch Ness Monster returns,” Ian Poulter said. “What else can you say? He’s an interesting cat, somebody who was one of the brightest talents in golf. Obviously got everyone talking. As we say, the Loch Ness Monster disappeared, and no one saw him again. But I’m pleased for him that he’s put himself into a position where he wants to play. As a talent, he had everything. He had a swagger about him. He was different. He was good for the game. And then he’s gone MIA for 12 years. I think it’s going to cause a lot of media interest globally. We’re all kind of intrigued to see how he plays. I hope he plays nicely.”

Talor Gooch said he won a chipping contest against Kim years ago, when Gooch was a teenager and Kim was at Oklahoma. Phil Mickelson raved about Kim’s “swagger” and “charisma.”

Wildcard player Anthony Kim smiles during the practice round before the start of LIV Golf Jeddah at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club
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“He’s an enigma that people love,” added McDowell. “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?”

Back in the states, they’ll have an eye on his return too.

“He was one of those guys when you’d walk by that made that sound,” said Rickie Fowler, who is playing the Cognizant Classic at PGA National Resort. “There’s few guys that make other players’ heads turn. He was one of those ones, and he’s obviously very talented.”

On Thursday, on his newly created Instagram account, Kim posted a picture alongside LIV CEO Greg Norman and Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the chairman of LIV Golf.

“Family over everything,” the caption read. “Thank you Your Excellency, Greg, & the LIV team for providing my family this opportunity & experiences.”

It’s unclear if this was before or after the Thursday pro-am, in which Golf Digest Australia reported that only one of Kim’s three pro-am partners showed up, which led to Kim jokingly asking a small group, “Does anyone want to join?”

Then, going through his bag to prepare for his round, Kim asked his caddie, “What do I need? It’s been a while.”

It has. But the wait is almost over.

Josh Berhow

Golf.com Editor

As GOLF.com’s managing editor, Berhow handles the day-to-day and long-term planning of one of the sport’s most-read news and service websites. He spends most of his days writing, editing, planning and wondering if he’ll ever break 80. Before joining GOLF.com in 2015, he worked at newspapers in Minnesota and Iowa. A graduate of Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minn., he resides in the Twin Cities with his wife and two kids. You can reach him at joshua_berhow@golf.com.