Anthony Kim opens LIV Golf career with shank, cards better than expected round

Anthony Kim last hit a professional golf shot during the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship, where he withdrew after opening with a 2-over 74.

Nearly a dozen years later, Kim, who has three PGA Tour victories, began his LIV Golf career at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in Saudi Arabia.

He shot a 76 on the par-70 layout, which is not a poor round given his extended absence from the game.

“Obviously disappointed with the score, but I played much better than the score,” Kim said after his round.

“I’ve got a lot to build on. Just made a lot of unforced errors, and that was unfortunate, but I feel like I’m not that far away.”

Anthony Kim, LIV Golf

Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images

Consider this: Will Zalatoris underwent back surgery last April and missed the next seven months. In his first round back at the Hero World Challenge in December, Zalatoris shot a 9-over 81. He sorely struggled, emphasizing that getting back into the swing of things is easier said than done.

Hence, many pundits figured Kim would not break 80 in his LIV Golf debut on Friday.

After all, nobody had seen his game since before Lebron James won his first NBA title with the Miami Heat.

Still, Kim’s opening round did come with a fair dose of struggles.

At the 427-yard par-4 5th, Kim hit a cold-blooded shank from just off the fairway.

That led to his second bogey of the day, but Kim bounced back with a birdie on the next hole, the long par-4 6th. He rolled in a 25-footer.

Kim then made five more bogeys to finish his round, as he sits in 54th—dead last—through 18 holes of play.

“When he starts feeling comfortable with himself, he’ll be oozing the talent, and it’s going to start flooding for him,” said LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman on the broadcast.

“Whatever happens today does not really matter. I said to him on the first tee, ‘The journey of one thousand miles starts with a single step.’ And that first step is his first swing [Friday].”

Indeed, Kim has a long way to go until he finds himself in contention again. He sits 14 shots off the pace after round one. Jon Rahm and Adrian Meronk lead at 8-under, after shooting opening rounds of 62.

But Kim said afterward that he expected to shoot around even par. He felt that unforced errors with his irons led to his opening 76, a score that is “really disappointing.”

And yet, Kim should not get too down on himself. His round should impress golf fans because most people figured he would do much worse.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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