You could criticize Anthony Kim for several things at this year’s 2010 Shell Houston Open – for his inability to finish off the tournament in regulation time or for the fact that he hit his tee ball just about everywhere except where he aimed, but in the end he did what mattered most; win.
Winning PGA Tour players learn early that if they are to hoist trophies in their career that their games need not be textbook – they just need to take fewer strokes then their fellow competitors. That is exactly what Kim did today as he prevailed in a one hole playoff with Vaughn Taylor at the Redstone Golf Club in Humble, Texas.
Taylor pushed his way into the playoff with an uncommon birdie on the 72nd hole of the tournament, and closed the scoring gap when Kim failed to par his last hole of regulation. Momentum seemed to be on the side of Taylor as the playoff began on the 488-yard 18th hole. Not only was he coming off a birdie but the motivation for a win was heightened by the fact it would earn him a spot at The Masters, played annually in his hometown. Kim is already qualified.
Despite driving accuracy over the week that hovered just over 41 percent of fairways hit (including only 21 percent in round 3) Kim seemed in control of his game and emotions as he hit two impressive shots on the extra playoff hole on his way to making a solid par. Taylor scrambled and when his par effort pulled up woefully short of the hole Kim had his third PGA victory.
Even as drive after drive visited various parts of the county Kim was confident in his play – a great sign heading into The Masters. The 24-year old Los Angeles native has not won on the PGA Tour since 2008 when he roped in 2 titles but he is prepped and ready for the 1st major of the season. He says he may not be hitting the ball the way he wants but points to his ability this week to get up and down from all sorts of places as a beacon of confidence. “It was a problem with everything but the lob wedge and the putter. I just tried to give myself good opportunities around the green. Even if it was 40, 50 yards away, I felt like I could get the ball up and down,” he said after round three and carried that through the final stanza.
“Even when people doubt you; you have to be confident in yourself,” said Kim who has never been known for a lack of self-belief. It helped him earn a Shell Houston Open title this week but even he knows he will need more than that is he wants to contend next week and win his first major title. Whether struck by a confident golfer or not, the Augusta National Golf Club does not entertain marginal golf shots. He’ll need every bit of his new found “good-attitude” (as he calls it) and some better ball striking if he expects to be presented a new addition to his wardrobe by Angel Cabrera next Sunday.
No matter your opinion of young Mr. Kim he has to be considered as a valid contender for The Masters title, especially if he can maintain his short game confidence and bring his driver back to at least what he would consider his normal standards.
The only remaining, of course, is what type of blinged-out belt buckle matches up with a Green Jacket?
With no disrespect to Vaughn Taylor, arguably the only other player more impressive than Kim this week was Canadian Graham DeLaet. The PGA Tour rookie and Saskatchewan native was steadfast in his tackling of the Redstone layout (1 bogey in his last 63 holes). His birdie from under a tree on the 17th and a follow up scrambling par on the 18th proved why he is a great prospect for the PGA Tour. If this is how he can handle himself in just his 11th PGA Tour start on this stern of a layout he surely has a great career ahead of him.
This report provided to GolfWRX.com by Flagstick Golf Magazine (www.flagstick.com)