I can’t believe it’s been almost eight years since Anthony Kim teed it up last. He left us to get Achilles surgery in the summer of 2012, and we haven’t seen him since. It’s been well speculated as to the why and how he decided to leave the game, but ultimately no one really has the answer but the man himself.
Frankly, I’m grateful for the time he did give us. He was electric, fun, precise, wild, cocky, humble, and everything else. For every story of AK out on the town doing things that 20-somethings do, there is another story of his prolific generosity and humility.
LISTEN TO THE GEAR DIVE w/ Anthony Kim’s long-time swing coach Adam Schriber for the story of AK changing someone’s life with a big tip.
In my opinion, if he were still playing and healthy, he would be in that BK, Rory convo constantly. Let’s face it, he played well until injuries started to creep in. It’s a fact. His health went sideways in 2010, and it was uphill climb until he decided to hang it up.
I wanted to dive a little deeper into his gear, so I went to the person that worked with him closest. Ex-Nike tour tech and now @thetourvan‘s Ben Giunta.
SEE BELOW FOR AK’s final bag specs before he hung ’em up.
Ben Giunta, who worked with AK for years, had to say in regards to AK and his equipment.
JW: Not sure if TrackMan was really a thing back then but what kind of numbers did AK put up?
BG: So this is kinda weird in an era where TM is everywhere but I honestly don’t recall using a TM with AK. In those days, we used the big grey Nike talking box and don’t remember any of his data. I bet he was a 175-178 mph ball speed guy.
JW: Early on, he was known to use a low-lofted hybrid to replace his 3-wood. What was the process like to finally get him in that club?
BG: He hated hitting the ball left, especially with his woods. His fairway woods were always flat and bent open with hot-melt towards the toe. The only exception was in 2011, I built him a hot drawing 3-wood for Augusta. It wasn’t necessarily difficult to get him into a 3-wood, you just had to make sure it never went left (laughter).
JW: Did Mike Taylor do anything special to his irons? Or were they standard Nike blades?
BG: I’m sure MT touched his irons a bit, as he did for every Nike athlete, but he was pretty much a stock blade guy out of the box. His wedges, on the other hand, were MT specials. 54 and 59 every time with some specific toe-heel grinding on the 59. He was an incredible wedge player.
JW: Anything special overall you did for his equipment that stands out?
BG: AK was an incredible ball striker but when he missed it was left. I felt like we were always messing with woods…always open, always flat. AK wasn’t much of a tech guy, didn’t care much about what the product should do, just wanted it to work. 100 percent feel.
JW: Any fun AK stories from your time with him?
BG: Lots of AK stories, met the kid in 2007 at Q-School. He had just turned pro and at that time was followed by a ton of hype. I remember checking in with him to make sure he was good equipment-wise and he was as cool as could be smoking 4-iron after 4-iron, and I thought to myself this kid is going to be unbelievable.
15 months later he’s the hottest thing since sliced bread but still down to earth, at least inside the ropes. I remember seeing him in early 2013 with Adam at the Yard House in Palm Desert but the last event we actually did work was Quail in 2012 when he last showed up at a tour event. He was always good to me, great ball striker and competitor.
Anthony Kim’s final specs
Driver: Nike VR Pro LTD 9.5 @10, +3 Open, 55 Lie, D4 w/ UST Attas RK Proto 7X tipped 1 3/4 @44.75.
3-wood: Nike VR Pro LTD 15 @15.5, +3 Open, 56 Lie, D4 w/ Mitsubishi Chemical Diamana Ahina 80X@43
5-wood: Nike VR Pro LTD 19 @17, +4 Open, 56 Lie, D4 1/2 w/ UST AxivCore Tour Red 89X @42
Irons: Nike VR Pro Split CB (3) NIKE VR Pro MB (4-P) w/ Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400. All Irons at D3 and Std Length (38 inch 5 Iron, 35 3/4 PW)
Wedges: Nike VR Pro “MT Grind”: (54, 59) w/ Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400, 54 @D4, 59@D 4 1/2
Lofts and lies per club
- 3: 20, 56 1/2
- 4: 23, 56 1/2
- 5: 27, 58 1/2
- 6: 30, 59 3/4
- 7: 34, 60 1/2
- 8: 38, 61
- 9: 42, 61 1/2
- PW: 46, 62
- SW: 54, 61 1/2
- LW: 59, 61 1/2
Putter: Switched between a Scotty Cameron “Button Back” Newport 2 and a Nike Method
Grips: Golf Pride BCT 60R Logo Down
When you look closely, you can see exactly what Ben was alluding to as far as the flatness of AK’s sticks. It was fun to dig into his bag a bit further but ultimately it’s bittersweet. I want AK to come back in a blaze of glory. He’s good for the game on every level. He’s a star, and I don’t think we ever saw exactly what he was capable of, just glancing blows.
Come back to work, pro. Right now!
DeChambeau holds straight to claim U.S. Open title
Although the rounds came out of order, let the record show that Bryson DeChambeau did record a 70, a 69, a 68, and, on the most important of days, a Sunday 67. He was the only player to shoot under par on day four, and the only player to finish under par for the week.
His six-shot victory was not a dominant one, but it was the next best thing: impressive. DeChambeau balanced strategy and sinew to perfection, decoding the challenges and opportunities offered by the West Course at Winged Foot, and he claimed his first major title just four days after his 27th birthday.
For nine holes on Sunday, DeChambeau was in a battle with pairing competitor Matthew Wolff. First #BigBangTheory, and then #RipDog, posted eagle at the par-five 9th, thanks to identical driver-pitching wedge combos. They went to the back nine at 5 under and 4 under, respectively. At 10, Wolff’s iron turned over just enough to miss the green and leave him the most awkward of stances. He made bogey, and the lead was doubled. The eagle at nine turned out to be Wolff’s only hole below par all day, and he would drop three more shots on the way in. Wolff finished the week at even-par, a number that many projected to win after Friday’s round.
DeChambeau simply gave no openings to anyone on this final day. His final birdie came at the 11th after his approach failed to release and finished on the fringe. Undeterred, he putted from the fairway, as he had all week, and the sphere found the bottom of the tin can. DeChambeau didn’t hit many fairways this week, but he didn’t need to. Clubhead speed and short approach shots conquered the rough, and the Calixan (a blend of Californian and Texan) played the course as if it were just another Fortnite stream on Twitch (where you might find him tonight).
The two, non-player topics to hold our attention all week are absence of fans and distance gains. Would the oohs and ahhhs, and possible interruptions, of galleries have impacted this week’s result? No question. Some golfers feed off the electricity, while others wilt. No doubt a chorus of “You da man” and “Big Bang Theory” would have caused some influence, at some juncture.
Next, what about distance? Remember 1997, when Augusta did its level best to Tiger-proof the golf course? DeChambeau is only 73 inches tall. What happens when a 75- or an 80-inch golfer adds the mass that he did? All facets of the distance conversation amount to one of many discussions to be had. Anyone see how well he putted? How well he chipped and pitched? How well he decoded slopes of greens? The puzzle was there for the taking, and one golfer solved it.
Cheers, kudos, Hogan hats off to the champion!
5 things we learned on Saturday at the U.S. Open
On Friday, one of the announcers remarked that Brendon Todd was an ideal pick to win, because he never misses a fairway. Todd missed plenty on his way to 75, but so did everyone else. Not to knock Todd by any stretch of the imagination; the 2020 US Open, the 120th of its kind, doesn’t favor anyone. On Sunday, it will select someone as its champion. The decision might come grudgingly from the golfing gods, or it might be the anointment of a favored son or a new darling. It won’t come early, either. The realization of the winner’s identity will come in the final 40 minutes, over the closing, three-hole stretch. That’s the way these things work. We didn’t learn this on Saturday, but we did learn five things that we cannot wait to share with you.
And so, dear reader, welcome to five things we learned on Saturday at the 120th US Open championship.
1. Bryson dodged a bullet
Bryson DeChambeau is a really good golfer and a really smart fellow. He reminds me, in a lot of ways, of a guy who came through and changed the game in the late 1990s. People loved that cat from the start, but for some reason, are loathe to warm to #BigBangTheory. People need to check their egos and recognize that Bryson is good for the game. He’s honest, a little haughty, freaking smart, and jacked like Lalanne. He also might be this year’s US Open champion, this time tomorrow.
BDC had every reason to go away on Saturday. He made bogey at the first two holes, at the same time that playing partner Patrick Reed was making a birdie. Three shots gone in the first two holes. Yet BDC persevered. Reed, well, we’ll save what he did. Bryson made three birdies over his next 15 holes, and only a final-hole bogey kept him from a third consecutive round in the 60s. DeChambeau will have an advantage over his playing partner on Sunday, in that he has already felt the pressure of a final-group pairing in the Open.
2. Matthew Wolff wants his stature back
Last summer, when things were normal, Matthew Wolff jumped from college to tour winner in an instant. Later, Collin Morikawa joined him as a titleist, and Viktor Hovland, soon after. Thing was, Hovland and Morikawa had classic moves at the ball while Wolff, well, you know. Jump ahead to the ratchet year of 2020, and there was Morikawa, winning the PGA Championship while Wolff came 4th. Both finishes were impressive, but you can’t tell me that Wolff didn’t feel a bit chuffed as Morikawa became the new darling, major champion and some such.
September came, and Morikawa fueled his jet after missing the cut on Friday at Winged Foot. As for Wolff, he went out on day three and lit the flying five toes’ gettable front nine in 30 strokes. No, there was never a 59 watch, because this is the US Open, and that doesn’t happen. Wolff did manage to survive the inward side with one bogey, and then he ripped home one more birdie at the difficult closing hole to take the lead.
Logic says he won’t repeat that 65 on Sunday. If he does, he wins. He also might win with 70. Par will be his friend on day four, but can his putter remain ablaze? Good question.
3. St. Patrick of the worthless nine
Not since Retief Goosen absolutely lost it on day four of the 2005 US Open, have we seen a rock-solid performance fall off the planet in such spontaneous and dramatic gore. Actually, Gore was Goosen’s partner that day, but I digress. Patrick Reed was grinding through the third round, giving Bryson what four, when the wheels, well, they didn’t fall off. They exploded, and every bit of rubber disintegrated into anti-matter, which then disappeared into a black hole.
Reed had a pair of pars on the inward half, and those were the high points. He made bogey at six holes, including three straight mid-meltdown. As if that weren’t enough, the golfing gods hid the 11th fairway from site, and the Texan found the rough with three consecutive shots, on the way to a double bogey.
If this were a Greek tragedy or an epic poem, Reed might be dead, but he is not. His hubris gone, some kind of comeback on Sunday, into the top eight, would be seen as a fine performance. Patrick Reed is some kind of golfing talent, but the vagaries of a US Open setup make even the most precocious question their execution.
4. Quiet Louis lurks
Remember the 2012 Masters, the one where Charl Schwartzel was the defending champion, and was all set to drape the jacket on good friend Louis Oosthuizen’s shoulders? Yeah, then Bubba hit that hooking wedge from Tarzan’s front porch, and the bromantic ending was scuttled. Over the years, Louis has had opps to add to his major championship total of one, but has yet to sign the check. He had 2nd-place finishes in all four major championships, and tonight, he finds himself the last golfer under par through 54 holes. He sits 4 back of Wolff, really a pittance when an Open is on the line. If Louis brings the repeater that won him the 2010 Open at St. Andrews, he’ll double his majors total on Sunday. Anything less, and another top-five ending awaits.
5. Wherefore art thou, Roryo?
‘Tis the east, and Winged Foot is the sun, right, Bill? On Thursday and Saturday, Rory had two bogeys total. On Friday, ick. Dad Rory is battling to regain the confidence and the ability to close that young Rory possessed in spades, early last decade. McIlroy needs this win more than any other player in the field, or else it will be another chapter in the story of his life, Nice first half of your career. Sure, that’s harsh, but McIlroy is a once-a-decade talent, maybe better. He should win more majors than the six guys ahead of him, but he hasn’t claimed one since 2014, when he won the Open and the PGA. in consecutive months.
Six years is a long time between major titles. Ask Jack. Ask Tiger. Mac won the 2011 US Open at Congressional, but that one didn’t feel like any other Open. Soaked course where players threw darts all week, and he won by a large amount. McIlroy currently sits at +1. If he can get to 3 or 4 under on Sunday, which requires a mid-60s round, he should win the tournament. It’s time to orient the career as you move through your 30s, Roars. The bard has spoken.
GolfWRX U.S. Open watchalong thread (with WRX staff)
Jump into the forums to get the U.S Open chatter flowing!
GolfWRX Staff Members will be in the forums, on IG and Twitter talking equipment, opinions, predictions, and everything else.
And the final three holes, Saturday and Sunday, our own Johnny Wunder will be going live on Instagram with some special guests.
Tune in when the leaders tee off both afternoons to get into the mix.
Final Group Tee Off to Finish Saturday: Editor Ben Alberstadt, Director of Content Johnny Wunder, Assistant Editor Gianni Magliocco
Final Group Tee Off to Finish Sunday: On Spec’s Ryan Barath and TG2 host Brian “BK” Knudson, Assistant Editor Gianni Magliocco
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