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WRX Insider: Looking back at 2010 Houston Open champ Anthony Kim (+ exclusive Q&A with AK’s caddie)

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This was an article I wrote a while back that I will still go back to and read—yes, I read my own stuff from time to time. What can I say, I’m a huge Anthony Kim fan, and with the 2020 Houston Open going on this week, it reminds me of AK’s last win on Tour.

In 2010 Kim, who lead most of the day, finally defeated Vaughn Taylor in a playoff to secure victory #3. It was a sign of good things to come, AK had dedicated himself to getting to world #1, Tiger was on his own comeback and the throne was ripe for the taking. We all know what happened—after a spell of injuries, Anthony Kim walked away. 

Before digging into the piece, here’s an exclusive Q&A with AK’s caddie, Brodie Flanders.

JW: You caddied for AK for most of his career. What do you think made him so special as a player?

BF: His mindset. His self-belief and his confidence. He had absolutely zero self-doubt when he was inside the ropes and felt that he could hit any shot at any time no matter the pressure or circumstances. Playing defensively wasn’t a thing for AK.

JW: He won the Houston Open in 2010. You guys had it in hand until the final hole. What do remember most about the 72nd hole and the playoff victory?

BF: AK won by nine shots in a college event at the same course just a few years prior. We talked about it during the practice rounds, and he went into that week with some great memories to fall back on. The 18th tee shot at Redstone is challenging and the natural bailout is right. Unfortunately, he hit it into that fairway bunker off the tee, which made for a tough par to close it out.

A lot of people don’t realize that at that time, AK was playing with a torn thumb ligament in his left hand. He could barely keep his thumb on the club, so that week was about AK digging deep and just grinding it out and believing the chips would fall in his favor. When he saw Vaughn Taylor’s reaction to him missing the par putt on the 72nd, it put extra fuel in the tank to close it out in the playoff. He found the fairway and green and got it done.

JW: What was different about AK that week? Putter? Attitude? Ball striking?

BF: He put on a short game clinic that week but he did that every week if you ask me. He had a top-five short game, no question about it, and when he was hitting it sideways (thumb), he relied on his wedges and putting to get it done.

JW: What’s your favorite AK moment?

BF: I could write a book about my favorite AK moments. There’s so many. He’s been my family for half my life now. I had the pleasure of playing against him in the World Juniors in Japan at 16 to being roommates with him in college at OU, to walking with him for a few years inside and outside the ropes, and even building some businesses together. If I had to single out a moment, it was his back 9 run at the 2010 Masters. AK never feels that he’s out of a tournament and what I always appreciated most about his game was the way he’d close the rounds. It wasn’t unusual for him to go 4-5 under on the last 9.

On Sunday, he told me on the 13th that if he could go birdie, birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie, birdie, he’d win.
He birdied 13, 14, and on 15 he had almost the identical yardage he had from Saturday. He flushed a 5 iron right behind the hole. Walking over the Sarazen bridge I tried to take it all in for probably the first time that day. I was at the Masters on Sunday with my best friend and he’s making a run. He said to me while reading that eagle putt on 15 “these ppl are about to go f*n nuts… watch this” and then he rolled it in. Goosebumps. He did the same thing on 16. I’ll never forget that day for the rest of my life.

Two weeks later, he hung it up to have surgery finally. One of many to follow.

JW: From AK fan #1 (me) can you let us know how he’s doing? Is he happy?

BF: AK is well and very very happy, and if you ask me, his best days are ahead of him and not behind him.

JW: Last question: If you built a WITB for AK now, what do you think would be in the bag?

BF: AK’s a rare breed and could make anything work. It’s hard to bet against the TM and Callaway woods these days, but I’d probably lean towards TM. I could see him putting one of those new driving irons in the bag instead of a utility since he was always creative with his 3-wood.

  • Irons TaylorMade P7AK irons (haha!)
  • Vokey Wedges
  • One of his original Scotty Cameron putters
  • Titleist Pro V1x

2010 Houston Open WITB

Driver: Nike VR Pro LTD 9.5 @10, 55 Lie, D4 w/ UST AxivCore Tour Black 79X @45

3-wood: TaylorMade Burner TS 13,  56 Lie, D4 w/ UST AxivCore Tour Black 89X @43

5-wood: Nike Sasquatch Dyno 19, Open, 56 Lie, D4 1/2 w/ UST AxivCore Tour Black 89X @42

Irons: Nike VR Pro MB (3-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, [email protected] 4 1/2

Putter: Scotty Cameron Studio Select Circle T Newport 2 w/ Scotty Cameron Pistol Red Full Chord Grip

Grips: Golf Pride BCT 60R Logo Down

Ball: Nike One Platinum

Now the speculation as to what the real reason goes anywhere from AK being a CIA agent to some insurance thing, boredom, other interests, etc. The point is, it doesn’t matter. The reasons are for AK only. As a golf fan, I’m just disappointed someone I loved watching is out of the picture.

Nonetheless, he is still one of my favorite topics. So in the spirit of looking back, here is an article I wrote in March of this year that goes into AK’s bag.

POSTED MARCH 20th, 2020

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 [email protected]

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, [email protected] 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.

 

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Johnny Wunder is the Director of Original Content, Instagram Manager and Host of “The Gear Dive” Podcast for GolfWRX.com. He was born in Seattle, Wash., and grew up playing at Rainier G&CC. John is also a partner with The Traveling Picture Show Company having most recently produced JOSIE with Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner. In 1997 Johnny had the rare opportunity of being a clubhouse attendant for the Anaheim Angels. He now resides in Toronto, On with his wife and two sons. @johnny_wunder on IG

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Matt Damon

    Nov 5, 2020 at 10:19 pm

    The guy was a fearless rockstar. Yes, the star sheen burned out quickly, and it was fun while it lasted. How many guys rocked diamond studded coffee saucer sized belt buckles? The guy was fresh, exciting, talented with a wicked game! He holds millions, lives well in Vegas,
    grows a mullet. Get on with your lives and keep hackin’

  2. WhyAre PeopleHaters

    Nov 5, 2020 at 3:34 pm

    The obsession is that he was great and stopped… If Wolff, Champ, Hovland, Scheffler, or Morikawa quit and never played again the same questions and articles would be written

  3. Pingback: Morning 9: How will Augusta play? | Exclusive talk with Anthony Kim’s caddie | Brooks Koepka: Course designer? – GolfWRX

  4. Stanley

    Nov 5, 2020 at 10:22 am

    I love the topic. Good to hear that he is well. I do hope that we hear directly from him in the future.

  5. Paul Runyan

    Nov 4, 2020 at 9:21 pm

    Who’s Anthony Kim??

    And who cares…

  6. Dyson Bochambeau

    Nov 4, 2020 at 8:20 pm

    What’s with the obsession over this guys?

    • A. Commoner

      Nov 5, 2020 at 2:52 pm

      Or thousands of others? Why let one be an issue? But, I did watch him play and he was a joy compared to many other players.

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GolfWRX Spotted: 2021 New Ping putter series at WCG Workday

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This week, the PGA Tour is at The Concession Golf Club in Bradenton Florida, and we were on-site Tuesday to spy some interesting things from the grounds and on the putting green where players were prepping for the first round of the WGC – Workday Championship where the purse is 10.5 million dollars!

It’s on the putting green where we spotted a whole line of new putters from Ping, and although we don’t have all the details about the new line there is enough visual technology to draw come conclusions including:

  • Dual-durometer inserts like the current Sigma 2 ( red accent )
  • Grooved insert technology
  • Heavy perimeter weighting on the heel and toe to increase MOI – assumed to be tungsten

Don’t forget that you can check out the full image galleries in the GolfWRX Tour Equipment forum.

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To see the rest of the pictures and read what GolfWRXer’s are saying about the spotted putters, check out the entire thread in the forums here: 2021 WGC Workday Championship – 2021 Ping putters

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Cameron Smith’s Scotty Cameron 11.5 putter at the 2021 WGC Workday

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In our forums, our members have been reacting to Cameron Smith’s new Scotty 11.5 putter. The flat-stick is a big hit amongst WRXers, and has even been described by one of our members as “basically perfect”.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • Katke87: “Ooooh baby baby!!! Can’t wait to get my hands on a new 5 and 11 to see which is more wonderful.”
  • TIScape: “Love it! I’m a slant neck fan. Identical to Homa’s it appears.”
  • MillerTime859: “That’s basically perfect.”

Entire Thread: “Cameron Smith’s Scotty Cameron 11.5 putter at the 2021 WGC Workday”

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Bettinardi signs LPGA Tour rising star Patty Tavatanakit

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Bettinardi Golf has announced the official signing of former World Number 2 amateur and LPGA Tour rising player Patty Tavatanakit.

Entering her sophomore season on the LPGA Tour, Tavatanakit will play her DASS (Double Aged Stainless Steel) Studio Stock 3 putter, with the 21-year-olds first tournament this week at the Gainbridge Championship in Orlando, Florida.

Patty attended the University of California Los Angeles, where she became a 7-time winner and two-time WGCA First Team All-American. With her success at UCLA, Patty qualified and became the Low Amateur at the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open, where she finished T5. Turning pro shortly after, she earned the Gaelle Truet Rookie of the Year award in 2019 on the Symetra Tour.

Putter Specs:

Model: Studio Stock 3

Weight: 360 grams

Material: DASS (Double Aged Stainless Steel)

Face Milling: Micro-honeycomb

Finish: Black PVD

Speaking on joining Team Bettnardi, Tavatanakit said

“I was always a big fan of Bettinardi Golf during my collegiate days, and now I couldn’t be more excited to be part of their official Tour staff. Being able to visit their shop, see the technology, and try all their face millings to find my perfect putter was truly awesome.

The confidence I now have in my putting is the best it has been, and I’m really looking forward to this season and seeing it pay off on the greens.”

Tavatanakit joins a young lineup of LPGA Bettinardi Staffers, including Annie Park, Muni He, and PGA Tour stars, such as Matthew Fitzpatrick, Sam Horsfield Jason Kokrak, and long-time staffers Matt Kuchar and Fred Couples.

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