Augusta, Ga. | A less-aggressive Anthony Kim mounted a final-round charge at the Masters. He didn’t win but came away with the best major result of his young career.
Kim shot a final-round 65, matching the low score of the day, to finish third at 12-under 276, four shots behind winner Phil Mickelson. No one bettered his second-nine 31 Sunday.
He got to 12 under with a birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie stretch on Nos. 13-16. He made putts of 15, 6, 15 and 30 feet on those holes. Kim’s birdie on No. 16 was an example of intelligent management. Instead of aiming directly for the pin, Kim took a shorter club to avoid going long.
“I know that putt, and I’ve practiced that putt before in the practice rounds,” Kim said of the uphill 30-footer he left himself. “I hit a 7-iron just to the right of the pin and had the look I wanted.”
It was his best finish in his 10th career major, and second top-10 (T-7 at ’08 British Open) in a Grand Slam event. Kim won the Shell Houston Open the week before the Masters, his first victory since his two-win season of 2008. He has finished in the top 3 in three of seven starts this year.
“I feel like I’ve actually gotten over a little hump in my golf career when I felt like things were stalling,” Kim said. “I think I was expecting to shoot 65 every time I teed it up. . . . Then I start pressing, and I start trying to make birdies and start going for pins that I don’t necessarily need to go for.
“I know now that with my attitude, if I can just get my ballstriking to where it was, I’m going to be at a different level.”
Kim has to deal with an injury to his left thumb, though. The problem has bothered him for more than
a year, but he might need to have surgery because it has not healed, he said.
K.J. Choi was the other contender to mount a serious charge, but on the more-difficult first nine. He shot 33 there. Choi tied for fourth at 11-under 277 after a final-round 69.
He was tied for the lead on the final nine, after a birdie at No. 10 put him at 12 under with Mickelson, who’d just parred the ninth hole.
Choi played all four rounds with Tiger Woods. Conventional wisdom was that a pairing with Woods would be a disadvantage because of increased attention and distractions. Choi proved that wrong.
“I enjoyed it really well,” he said.
In the final round, Choi said he became distracted when the group was informed it was playing too slowly. He played the final six holes in 1 over and finished five shots back.
It’s Choi’s first top 10 in a major since a tie for eighth at the ’07 British Open.