AUGUSTA, Ga. – A day before making more birdies in a single round at the Masters than anyone ever born, Anthony Kim walked off the 18th green Thursday evening at Augusta National feeling a big “sense of urgency.” He’d just posted 75 on a day characterized by many as the easiest day in Masters history, and was 10 shots off the lead when he hit his pillow.
He wasn’t too happy; if he was having fun, he didn’t know it.
Friday, he didn’t give himself a choice.
Kim read a story in a newspaper Friday morning about Los Angeles Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart, who was killed Thursday in a car accident.
“The last line in the story was, ‘You never know what can happen, even at 22,” said Kim, 23. “You have to live every moment of every day like it’s your last.’
“I don’t want to go out whining about a 3-putt. I want to be happy and I want to enjoy everything that the hard work has gotten me.”
Kim hit his opening tee shot in the right bunker, but slammed a 9-iron to 15 feet and made birdie, his first of 11 on the afternoon, all of which led to a 7-under 65, 10 shots better than yesterday.
It was a remarkable feat – a Masters record, beating Nick Price’s 10-birdie round in 1986 – especially considering Kim hadn’t found a leaderboard since his runner-up finish at the PGA Tour’s season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship in January. His struggles mainly have been the result of ankle and shoulder injuries.
During that time, some of which was spent playing overseas, it seemed Kim also fell off the map in some people’s minds – and his opening-round 75 Thursday didn’t do anything to pull him back.
“Besides my parents and a couple of my friends, I don’t know who is on that bandwagon anymore, everyone has jumped off so fast,” Kim said, half joking.
“I’m not too concerned about what everybody else is thinking. That has nothing to do with me. Obviously I play golf for myself. I play to win. I play for my family to just show that the hard work has paid off,” said Kim, currently 14th in the world ranking.
“But of course, I hear or I’ll be reading the paper and see, ‘What happened to him?’
“I’m still here.”
Everyone saw that Friday, whether it was his pitch to 2 feet on No. 3, his wedge on No. 14 to 2 inches or his 12-footer on 18 to get him to 4 under for the tournament and in a tie for sixth.
He moved up 69 spots.
“I really don’t know what happened,” Kim said. “The putter got hot, the confidence got a little bigger and a little bigger.”
If there’s one fact that you have to remind yourself of this week, it could be that this is Kim’s first Masters.
He won his first PGA Tour event last year a few weeks after the Masters and ended up being a Ryder Cup hero come September.
He’s learned a lot – from last year, this year, this morning.
“Look, it’s been a dream of mine to be at the Masters my whole life, and there’s no reason to pout about a bogey or a three-putt, but enjoy being out here and enjoy all of the hard work that was put into it by myself and my parents, and go out there and have some fun.
“I think (realizing that) is what made the 11 birdies a lot easier.”