What they said: Anthony Kim

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January 18, 2012
PGA TOUR staff

MORE INTERVIEWS: Humana Challenge transcript archive MARK STEVENS: Like to welcome Anthony Kim to the interview room. Anthony, I'm sure you're happy to be home here in Palm Springs, kind of your home. If you want to talk about your thoughts coming into this week and kind of what you expect on not only this tournament, but this season and we'll have some questions.

ANTHONY KIM: I'm obviously very excited to be playing golf where I played my high school golf. I feel very at home here and hopefully I can prove that with how I play this week. I'm staying in my own bed and my parents are going to be out and that's going to be a lot of fun to play in front of them.

I've been working extremely hard here across the street at the Madison Club and been there every morning working out, golfing, playing a lot of golf holes, learning how to hit different shots and doing what I used to do when I lived out here and I was 16, 17 years old.

So a lot of good memories from here and hopefully I can make some birdies.

Q. Is the entire tournament over at Madison? It seems like everybody's over there this week.

ANTHONY KIM: Yes.

(Laughter.)

Q. What's your mindset coming into the start of this year given the way things ended for you last year; and you played pretty strong golf there in that stretch over in Asia.

ANTHONY KIM: Well that was a very tough year, to say the least. 2011 was a year that I would like to forget very soon, but I learned a lot about myself, learned a lot about perseverance and grinding through those tough times and trying to keep my head up when it looked like I was just taking on water.

I'm looking forward to playing some good golf, but the last part of 2011 when I was over in Asia and started to make a couple birdies and pars, not doubles helped. That really turned my mindset around about being able to come out here and compete and give myself a chance to win every single week.

And the last two weeks have been huge for me, I've been practicing, playing 36 holes, doing the things I need to do to put myself into a place, a mindset where I can go out and win golf tournaments.

Q. Was there something that kind of physically clicked in and suddenly you started making those birdies in that last half of the year or was it just the natural progression of coming back from the injury??

ANTHONY KIM: It was a natural progression, but for some reason I, after the season, I took a little time off, I was so frustrated, I didn't know what part of my golf game needed to be fixed. Obviously my dad pointed out to me that I was last, the worst driver on TOUR last year, but it wasn't just the driving, it was getting the ball in the hole, being patient. Obviously when you make three bogeys on the first three holes it's hard to be patient because you have to make the 36 hole cut to play 72.

So it was more about trying to figure out exactly what I needed. And it wasn't my golf swing, it was mental. It was just to just let it go. And I started standing over the ball for 45 seconds at a time and as you all know the more you think, the worse and harder this game gets.

So I started saying, look, even if I'm aimed in the wrong direction I'm going to be natural and athletic and try to get the ball to where I see. And with that came better golf shots and more confidence and I started learning more about my golf swing.

Q. Given all the reasons you said why you enjoy playing here, why haven't you played here the last three years??

ANTHONY KIM: To be quite honest, I've been waiting for that question, I'm surprised that wasn't the first one. But I actually have had some opportunities to go play overseas, it's been a dream of mine to be a global player, and to be able to travel the world and play the tournaments I want to play and see some of the places I want to see. It's been special to me.

I know when I'm 30 something years old and hopefully I'll have a family by then and I won't have to go 14, 15 hours and travel and not be able to see my family.

So I just haven't had the opportunity to come back, but I'm happy to be here now, try to play as good as I can for the people that come out to watch, and the people that have supported me throughout the years, even in high school.

Q. When you live here, I talked to a lot of guys who live in the valley and say they never really play these golf courses or they play their home course, but they don't get over here very often, did these two courses in particular, were these where you played or did you play all of the PGA West courses??

ANTHONY KIM: I played the Stadium Course most of the time. I figured if I could play halfway decent out there I could play any golf course. And that seemed to be the case. And luckily Q School was there for final stage when I was playing in Q School.

So I felt very fortunate to have that kind of advantage. And I feel like I have the same thing here with the Palmer and Nicklaus Courses, I haven't played La Quinta quite as much, but I went and played a practice round there Tuesday and it's in great shape. And if you get the ball rolling out here and you make a couple birdies in a row, there's no telling what you could shoot.

Q. You talked about what a difficult year last year was, was there a particular turning point and also anybody that helped you a lot in the learning process??

ANTHONY KIM: Well, it wasn't a, there wasn't a tournament where I said, okay, this is where it's turning around. But after Deutsche Bank, golf was so frustrating I didn't know where the ball was going. And I didn't know whether to go grind and practice or whether to take time off or whether to just put it away until the Humana tournament came around in Palm Springs and take three months off.

So I took a month off, I started practicing the day before I left for Asia, practiced in L.A. for one day, got on a plane, went to Korea, hit the ball as good as I've hit it all year.

And then went and played in China at the Shanghai Masters, and my game held up. I didn't know what to expect, but my game held up.

And I took a week off in Bali and didn't touch a club again, just kind of vacationed there and tried to think about what I could do to get better. And I realized that if I just let it go, my natural ability will take over and I'll be able to get the ball in the hole. That's what I'm good at. I need to just let it go, be free, and that's how I play my best golf. Some people need to think more, some people say I need to chip better, I need do this. I just need to let it go and be free. So that's what I'm going to be doing this year and hopefully it will work out and hopeful three will start this week.

Q. Greg Norman was in here earlier and described Asia as sleeping giant in golf. Just based on what you saw when you were out there, how would you assess the state of the game over there and the popularity and the level of play??

ANTHONY KIM: You see more and more Asian Tour players coming on this TOUR, on the PGA TOUR. And this is the best tour in the world. To be able to have an opportunity to play over here is huge for Asia. And I think that they're breeding their players to make it out here. It's not just about hitting the ball straight anymore, people are trying to get longer, they're getting into fitness, the game is growing so much faster out there than it is here. And obviously there's quite a bit of money out there and they're pushing their developmental programs and their players are getting better a lot faster.

So I do believe that, I think that there's been a lot of great ambassadors for golf there, K.J. in Korea, has pushed the game, and there's been so many other guys. But it's grown fast and it doesn't just feel like it's Asia, it feels like it's all around the world.

Q. Does Seung yul Noh personify what you're talking about? Could you just describe what you've seen of his game?

ANTHONY KIM: He's a tremendous player. Hits it long, hits it straight, makes a lot of putts, makes a lot of birdies. But it seems like we're saying that about everybody.

You play on this TOUR, you're probably going to make a lot of birdies and if you don't, you're probably not playing on this TOUR for very long. So it seems like all the young players that are coming out here, they're pretty fearless, ready to win golf tournaments, completely capable of doing that.

And I remember five, six years ago when I was young, now I feel like I'm the old guy in the group, but they're coming out here ready to play, seasoned, they got good teams around them, good coaches, and a great support system. So there's no reason why young guys can't play well and I see the future of the game just progressing even further.

Q. How long have you been back in the desert now and is it an ideal way to start this year here, sleeping in your own bed after a year that you would like to forget as quickly as possible??

ANTHONY KIM: Absolutely. This is the first time I've spent New Year's with my parents, it was awesome. I've been here since probably December 20th. Maybe a little bit before that. I've been working on my game, hanging out with my parents. It's been great because, after a bad year, you almost want to isolate yourself and try to figure out what you're doing wrong. But having my parents around and bouncing some ideas off them and them just telling me that at the end of the day everything's going to be fine. That has meant a lot to me. I actually just got back from Madison with them.

It's been a tough, tough progression, but I feel like I'm going to be a much better player, I feel like a more complete player right now. I'm very confident in my game. Now that doesn't mean I'm going to go out there and shoot 63 all four days and blow away this tournament, but I'm very happy with how I'm hitting the ball, the short game and putting has always been there, so I just need to go ahead and bring it out to the course.

Q. There's nothing like home cooking and the comforts of home, is there anything that your parents have made perhaps that has made you feel at home??

ANTHONY KIM: The Korean food they make is pretty good. But I can only do that about once a week, so I've been going to Baja Fresh a lot.

Q. The talk from most of the players this week has been about the format change. From five days to four and fewer amateurs each day. You played in this format a couple times, saw it before that, what's your take on the changes here??

ANTHONY KIM: I'm happy to be in here right now, but I would be way happier if I shot 60 and was talking to you guys the first day of this tournament.

But I think it's great. It's going to bring more people out. Obviously having President Clinton a part of this event is drawing way more attention than it's ever had. And no disrespect to Bob Hope or anybody else that's helped with this tournament, but I see this tournament getting better and better every year with the fields, especially with the golf course change, having it not be across the street, having some unfair conditions, with guys playing the Palmer Course as opposed to the Country Club at the Desert or The Classic Club, because you can get some pretty spotty days up there and it is an unfair advantage sometimes. Unless you're on right side of the draw, then you love it.

But I see this tournament getting better and better every year and hopefully I can come back and support this tournament.

Q. And you can shoot 60 tomorrow. That's allowed.

ANTHONY KIM: Trust me, I'm going to be doing my best.

Q. What do you like about playing with celebrity amateur partners and is there, what is, in your mind, the down side? You're the only sport where you have amateurs actually playing on the competition venue alongside you.

ANTHONY KIM: I'm a pretty relaxed person, I like to have fun. I saw my pairing today, it's Sandra Young, she's, I feel like I'm very lucky to be playing with her, I have a bunch of members at Madison Club tell me she's a good player and hopefully she wants to win, because I do too.

But for me personally I enjoy meeting new people, I enjoy spending time with people that don't just play golf. I would say 99 percent of my friends don't play golf but once a year and that I would like to keep it that way. It's just, it's fun for me to meet new people and hang out with them, play golf with them, and not really talk about golf, but other things.

MARK STEVENS: Okay. Well, thanks a lot, Anthony, hopefully see you back in here this weekend.

ANTHONY KIM: Okay.

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