by Jeff Skinner
It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. For Anthony Kim and Vaughn Taylor it was a tale of two tournaments yesterday at The Shell Houston Open. Kim’s almost snatched defeat from the jaws of victory when he bogeyed his final hole to fall into a tie with Taylor and force a playoff. After landing in the greenside bunker Kim played a wonderful sand shot to six feet. The putt would have won the tournament and given Kim his first win since the 2008 Wachovia Championship. Kim let it slip by and faced Taylor in the playoff.
Taylor had finished with a flourish by sinking an eighteen foot putt for birdie on the last. It left him one shot behind Kim and waiting by a television to watch the finish. For Taylor a win would have given the Augusta, Ga. native entry into The Masters. It would have been a fairy tale ending with the hometown boy making a triumphant return home to play before his hometown fans in the most special of tournaments. When Taylor’s playoff tee ball landed in the sand and his approach also found a bunker his dream was over. He’ll have to settle for a second place check of $626,400 and watching The Masters from behind the ropes instead of playing inside them.
Kim’s par on the first playoff hole gave him his third career PGA Tour victory and completed a comeback of sorts for Kim. After his two wins in 2008, the high expectations for Kim’s 2009 season went unfulfilled. He spent the early part of the season traveling the world playing golf, collecting appearance money and practicing less than he needed. This win validates Kim’s new attitude this year. He has rededicated himself to practicing more, changing his diet and controlling his temper.
Talking about his missed putt on eighteen he said, “Two years ago, that bag may have been in the water,” Kim said. “I might not have had clubs to go to the playoff. But I just feel calm out there, I feel no sense of urgency. It’s something that’s happened naturally and not something that’s been forced. I’m comfortable with who I am out there. I found my identity.”
He said he has a different perspective now,” “I just look back at last year, after the season was over, I was just complaining about everything. I felt like I deserved to win a golf tournament without trying. That’s not how it is.”
“I’ve put in a lot of hard work, so I feel like when I’m out there, I know I’m going to do well. Having that confidence really has propelled my game, I feel like, to a different level.”
It sounds like Kim is doing something all “twenty-somethings” do sooner or later. He’s maturing. With his skills and a new attitude he’s sure to be winning more and fulfilling those high expectations.