Thu, Jul 02, 2009 - Page 20 News List

Thumbs up for champ Anthony Kim

AFP , BETHESDA, MARYLAND

Anthony Kim watches his tee shot on the 17th hole during the continuation of the second round of the 109th US Open on June 20 at Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, New York.

PHOTO: AFP

Anthony Kim defends his crown this week at the PGA National with renewed confidence thanks to a healed left thumb and a solid performance at the US Open.

Kim has not won since taking the title last year at Congressional Country Club, a triumph that has given last year’s Ryder Cup standout a mental boost.

“It has definitely elevated my confidence,” Kim said. “It has elevated me in the eyes of my peers, the fact that I won on a great golf course and with a pretty solid field.”

But Kim, whose parents came to the US from South Korea in 1971, has not cracked the top-10 in an event since sharing second at the season opener in Hawaii, in part due to shoulder, ankle and left thumb injuries.

“It has probably been my toughest year on tour,” Kim said. “I’ve had these little injuries that have held me back, but I’m learning more about myself when I’m not playing well. I’m learning how to play this game.”

After finishing 11th last week in Hartford and 16th at the US Open two weeks ago, Kim is on a roll and pleased with the way he handled pressure in a major.

“It showed me that even without my best, I was going to have a chance to win that tournament,” Kim said. “If I go back and think about what I could have done to minimize some of the big mistakes I made and play a little bit smarter, I would have had a chance to win that golf tournament.”

“So I have nothing but positive feelings from the last two weeks and hopefully it’ll come through this week,” he said.

A key to Kim’s comeback has been the healing of his thumb.

“I was 100 percent about two and a half months ago and I was making a golf swing and something just felt wrong in my thumb,” Kim said. “It was a huge deal because I couldn’t get through the ball and I couldn’t hit a fade.”

“I wasn’t seeing the shots I wanted and I was losing a little confidence, but I’ve been getting treatment, getting stronger, so it’s starting to come around. My thumb feels as good as it has in probably three months,” he said.

“It may have just been a strain that I didn’t let heal, and it just kept lingering and bothering me, but I’m back now,” the Los Angeles-born star said.

Kim is not pushing himself to win too much too soon, figuring he has time to reach his peak.

“I just turned 24 just 10 days ago. I have no pressure from anybody,” he said.

“I want to play great golf. I want to win golf tournaments. I’m here to do that, but at the same time, I have so much to look forward to,” Kim said.

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