Kim: Battled 'very dark demons' away from golf

Golfer Anthony Kim battled numerous injuries, including spinal fusion surgery, addiction and “very dark demons” during his nearly 12-year hiatus from professional golf before returning to the LIV Golf League earlier this year.

In an interview with David Feherty that was published on LIV Golf Plus on Tuesday, Kim revealed details of his long road back to professional golf. He is scheduled to play in his first LIV Golf League tournament in the U.S. at Trump National Doral outside Miami on Friday.

“Golf is important to me and not important to me at the same time,” Kim told Feherty. “I’ve had some very dark moments. I’ve had some very low moments. I’ve felt very alone, even when there’s a million people around. I needed to get my mind straight and figure out what my purpose was on this planet.”

Kim, 38, was a three-time winner on the PGA Tour from 2008 to 2010 and competed on U.S. Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams. At the height of his career, the former Oklahoma star was ranked sixth in the world.

In May 2012, Kim withdrew after the first round of the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina. He had surgery to repair his left Achilles tendon the next month and never played on the PGA Tour again.

Kim told Feherty that he later had surgeries on his hand and shoulder and a spinal fusion procedure, which Tiger Woods had in 2017. Kim said he didn’t leave his house much and had six dogs and two monkeys living with him at one point.

After the Achilles tendon injury, Kim collected at least part of a disability insurance policy that was reportedly worth $10 million to $20 million. He didn’t provide Feherty with details of the settlement. Kim said he is participating in a documentary about his life.

I know public perception is that I took this money and ran and decided I was just going to hang out,” Kim said. “That wasn’t the case at all. I had multiple, multiple surgeries in a few years. And my body is still not what it used to be.”

When he was younger, Kim said he was victimized by “scam artists” and “snakes” and has shed about 98% of the people who were around him in the past. He said he has an “addictive personality” and knew he “needed help for a long time.”

“I was around some bad people,” Kim said. “People that took advantage of me — scam artists. And when you’re 24 or 25, even 30 years old, you don’t realize the snakes that are living under your roof. But through the grace of God, I’m here. I’m able to tell my story, hopefully inspire other people.”

Kim credited his wife, Meredith, and their 2-year-old daughter, Bella, with helping him turn his life around. According to Kim, he didn’t start playing golf again until his wife expressed an interest in picking up the game.

“I’m so blessed to have both of those women in my life,” Kim said. “I wake up with a feeling of gratitude every morning.”

Kim is playing as a wild card in LIV Golf League tournaments this year, meaning he can compete in the individual portion of events but his scores won’t count in the team standings. He finished 53rd out of 54 players at 16 over in his debut in Saudi Arabia in early March. He played better in his second start in Hong Kong a week later, carding a 5-under 65 in the final round to finish 3 over.

“I have an interesting relationship with golf,” Kim said. “I don’t think I ever loved it. What’s very weird to me is I’m falling in love with the game. That’s such a weird spot for me because golf was filled with pressure. Golf was filled with lots of different emotions for me.

Because my family had to go through a lot to give me this opportunity to play golf. So with that added pressure, I was willing to risk a lot more. That was my nature. I was aggressive on the golf course. I was aggressive off the golf course, and that led to my demise.”

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