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Anthony Kim’s comeback is one we all want to see, but according to a PGA Tour coach, we’ll need to be patient before we see his best golf again.
It might feel like yesterday that we saw Anthony Kim striding down the fairway on the PGA Tour, but 12 years is a long time, particularly in high-level professional golf.
If reports are to be believed, however, it might not be long before we see Kim back on the course. Reports from earlier this year suggest that he is looking at making a return to competitive golf, with the smart money on Kim playing on the LIV Golf League. However, PGA Tour bosses have confirmed that should he want to, the former phenom would be welcome on the tour.
While the notion that Kim might make the return has been a pipe dream for over a decade, that dream could soon become reality.
However, according to Shauheen Nakhjavani, who coaches the likes of Kevin Chappell, Yannik Paul and Calum Hill, we should temper expectations if, and when, Kim makes his return to the top level.
“I think in the short term, people need to be very realistic and hold off on their expectations a little bit,” Nakhjavani told bunkered.co.uk. “The game continues to evolve and it’s not the same game that Anthony used to play. To be fair, it could be Tiger coming back from ten years away, it doesn’t matter who it is, it’s going to take you a long time to get used to playing tournament golf again.”
While we don’t know exactly what Anthony Kim has been up to since his last PGA Tour start, which was at the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship, Nakhjavani thinks that even if Kim has been hitting the driving range and golf course, that might not translate to top performances in competition.
“Doing something on the driving range or doing something in a money game on a Tuesday is very, very different to playing for significant amounts of money and accolades,” he said.
“This is a guy who had decent success that was very short lived. I think the hardest part is going to be getting into playing the tournament again. It’s the nerves, the anxiety, knowing that things will matter a lot more.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if Anthony does come back and start to compete in tournaments, but it will surprise me if he starts competing right off the bat. I really wouldn’t expect that to happen in the early stages of it. But I wouldn’t rule it out to happen in some point in time.”
Nakhjavani, who operates from Montreal, Canada, was also keen to point out that the style of golf we see today is very different to what Kim, who is now 38, was accustomed to as a young upstart on the PGA Tour.
“Average club head speed is way faster than it used to be, and there’s an increased focus on analytics which shows the areas of your game where you need to work on. People are much better prepared to play tournaments now than they were ten years ago.”
It’s not just increased swing speeds that Kim will need to contend with, but the enhanced focus on analytics and fitness is something the three-time PGA Tour winner will be forced to consider. For Kim, that could be a change of pace for someone who supposedly spent the night before the 2005 Walker Cup matches at the bar.
“I can recall seeing videos of Anthony going to the golf course and saying he doesn’t even know what shape he was going to hit that day,” Nakhjavanai said. “That doesn’t sound like a player who was very well prepared to me.
“Golfers take their health a lot more seriously now. Golfers spend a lot more time in the gym now. Players do different things when they’re preparing for a round that they wouldn’t have done in the past.
“I think Anthony is going to have a very hard time playing his old style of golf in the new age we are in.
“I’ve been very grateful and fortunate to work with some great professional golfers and some of them have come back from lengthy injuries. Were they ever the same golfer? Sometimes they are, sometimes they’re not. It’s a bit of a guessing game. You’ll never really know until a player is put into that circuit or that arena.”
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