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It’s the question on everybody’s lips: why did Anthony Kim decide to end his 12-year exile from professional golf?

Everybody’s got their theories but only LIV Golf commissioner Greg Norman has the answer. And appearing on the league’s broadcast during the opening round in Jeddah, the Aussie filled us in.

Two-time major champion Norman hopped into the booth early into Kim’s first competitive start in 11 years, nine months and 27 days.

With the former Ryder Cup star battling to recover from a bogey on his opening hole – which included a stone-cold top with his second shot – Norman explained that attempts to recruit Kim to the Saudi-funded circuit began “a couple of years ago”.

“We reached out to AK early on but it wasn’t the right time for him,” said the Aussie. “I wanted him to know we had interest in re-igniting him and bringing his passion and belief in the game of golf back out.”

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Norman added that it was “very emotional” for him to finally convince Kim to join.

“Very few people know what it’s like to be at the upper level [of the game] like he was,” he added. “He was an incredible player. To see him fall into this dark hole and then, about a year ago, to clean himself up, get himself back, injuries, whatever it is; to see where he is today, to walk with him, to be with him the last month-and-a-half, six weeks through this process.

“He didn’t want an agent. He wanted to do it all himself. He wanted to speak to me, he wanted to speak to one other person. He has been reinvigorated through his wife Emily, through his daughter Bella and it’s brought something back to him.”

According to Norman, it was Emily who was the decisive factor in persuading Kim to return.

• McEwan: Anthony Kim was never a golf great – so what gives?

• Anthony Kim: Twitter reacts to LIV Golf comeback

“His interest was created because Emily wanted to learn how to play,” he said. “The two of them went out onto the golf course. Emily said that he’s a very, very good teacher and she’s fallen in love with the game, so they started to play golf together two, three, four times a week.

“So, this journey has been a journey of two, not one. Well, three, because of Bella.

“AK will find himself in a better place. Not this first round, not the second round, not the second tournament but when he starts feeling comfortable in himself, the talent will start oozing out.

Norman also explained what prompted Kim’s ugly top on his second shot of the day.

“A drone came overhead and he hadn’t heard before, so he just cold topped it. I went up to Emily and said, ‘Just tell him these drones are going to be overhead.’ He’s got to get used to that because it’s a different energy out here.”

author headshot

Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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