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London was preparing to host the Olympic Games. Sergio Aguero was just about to break Manchester United hearts. Barack Obama was re-elected for a second term as US President. 

Yes, the world was a very different place when Anthony Kim was last seen playing golf.

In May 2012, Kim withdrew from the Wells Fargo Championship through injury after shooting a 74 at Quail Hollow Golf Club in round one.

Nobody could have expected that it was the last time we were going to see one of the PGA Tour’s stars competing at the highest level for over a decade.

• Anthony Kim confirms return to golf with LIV

• How to watch Anthony Kim’s comeback this week

But for almost 12 years now, Kim has existed almost entirely through hearsay.

His retreat into the shadows has become one of the most fascinating stories never told in golf, but now we’re about to learn what really happened to the enigmatic American.

The rumour was that Kim accepted an eight-figure insurance payout which he had taken out to protect him in the event of a career-ending injury

Kim, now 38, will tee it up at LIV Golf’s third event of the season in Jeddah this week, making a comeback to the elite game that once appeared unthinkable.

A three-time winner on the PGA Tour who once reached sixth in the world rankings, golf, and life in general, is unrecognisable from when a 26-year-old faded from the limelight.

At the end of 2012, Luke Donald was behind only No.1 Rory McIlroy in the world rankings, while there were places in the top 20 for the likes of Jason Dufner, Nick Watney and Peter Hanson.

Kim was a cult hero in the 2008 Ryder Cup, but a few months after vanishing from professional golf, the Miracle of Medinah happened.

• Anthony Kim: 5 burning questions that need answers

• How big is the challenge facing Anthony Kim? One tour coach reveals all

McIlroy, meanwhile, had just won his second major and Ernie Els was lifting the Claret Jug at Royal Lytham after a memorably painful Adam Scott collapse.

There was, of course, no serious talk of a rival tour that was hoping to shake up the professional golf landscape forever.

Elsewhere in sport, Chelsea won the Champions League for the first ever time after a win against Bayern Munich on their own patch.

My colleague Alex Perry reliably informs me that Torquay United were preparing for the League Two play-offs. For those concerned, his beloved Yellows are now a crisis club facing administration in the National League South.

Andy Murray became the first Briton to reach the men’s singles final at Wimbledon in 74 years and won Olympic gold on Centre Court at SW19.

Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” was topping the charts and very rarely off the radio. The absurd K-pop single “Gangnam Style’ became YouTube’s most-watched video, surpassing a billion views.  The 2012 doomsday conspiracy theorists took a little break from the internet.

All of this is a long way of saying that he haven’t seen Anthony Kim play a golf shot in ages. 

And, perhaps, that Kim faces quite the challenge to compete again as he closes in on his forties in a golf world that is more ruthless than ever.

Kim was once one of the most compelling figures in pro golf at a period where characters were lacking.

Now, all eyes are on his next chapter.

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Ben Parsons joined bunkered as a Content Producer in 2023 and is the man to come to for all of the latest news, across both the professional and amateur games. Formerly of The Mirror and Press Association, he is a member at Halifax Golf Club and is a long-suffering fan of both Manchester United and the Wales rugby team.

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