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Anthony Kim talks of ‘scam artists,’ seeking professional help, in Feherty interview

Anthony Kim said that, after years of struggling, he received treatment in early 2023 for undisclosed health reasons that put him on the road to recovery and a return to competitive golf.

In his first longform sitdown since his mysterious disappearance from the PGA Tour in 2012, Kim, now 38, said in an interview with LIV Golf’s David Feherty that there were several factors that drove him from the game, including “a handful of surgeries” that took a toll on his body and sent him into “very low points in my life.”

“I really didn’t leave the house,” he said of his disappearing act. “I watched a lot of reality TV and ate a lot of food and just really hung out with my animals and occasionally had a good time.”

Largely left unanswered are what Kim actually did for those dozen years, the depths of his trauma and why now he has returned – especially when he said that he only started playing golf again three months ago, after LIV CEO Greg Norman phoned him to gauge his interest in the Saudi-backed league.

Though vague about his time away, Kim said that he sought professional help in early 2023, and that decision helped turn around his life.

“I’ve needed help for a long time,” he said. “I knew I had battles mentally that I’ve never talked about with anybody, and just kept to myself. Through lots of conversations with very important people in my life, I got help, and I started turning my life around about a year and a half ago.”

Kim said he is currently working on a documentary during which he will further detail his decade-long journey that includes “some pretty traumatic things.” Kim is also expected to meet with the media Thursday morning in Miami, site of this week’s LIV event.

“I’ve had some very dark moments,” he said, “have felt very alone, even when there’s a million people around. I needed to get my mind on straight and focus on what my purpose was on this planet.”

Kim said he was not “at liberty to talk about” the details of his injury settlement and how that related to his return to professional golf. In 2012, Kim underwent surgery to repair an Achilles tendon injury in his left leg and, prior to this year, hadn’t competed since. It has been reported that a sticking point in any comeback was that he had collected at least part of a disability insurance policy that was reportedly worth between $10 million and $20 million.

“I know public opinion is that I took this money and ran and decided I was just gonna kind of hang out,” Kim said. “But that wasn’t the case at all. I had multiple, multiple surgeries in a few years, and my body is still not what it used to be.”

Since 2012, he said, he has also undergone hand and shoulder surgeries, as well as a spinal fusion.

Kim said he weighed returning to the PGA Tour but opted instead to sign with LIV for the remainder of this season as a wildcard player, meaning that he is not a part of any of the 13 teams but can still accrue money and points based on his individual finishes. With the league’s no-cut, guaranteed-pay format, he has already made $110,000 in two starts despite finishing at or near the bottom of the leaderboard. He also missed the cut last month at an Asian Tour event.

“I took some risks that were unnecessary before,” he said of his Tour/LIV decision. “I’m a little bit more calculated. I’m going to keep taking risks as I go along.”

Kim said he moved from Dallas to Oklahoma City about two and a half years ago, to be closer to his wife’s family. It was there that he and Emily welcomed a baby girl, Bella, 2, whom Kim says is now his primary motivation for competing.

Besides having a family, Kim said that he has “shed about 98%” of the people he used to associate with. He called many of them “bad people” who were “scam artists” that “blackmailed me and took advantage of me in different ways.”

“When you’re 24, 25, even 30 years old,” he said, “you don’t realize the snakes that are living under your roof.”

At the time, Kim was a three-time winner on the Tour who starred at the 2008 Ryder Cup and had a memorable flourish during the 2010 Masters. During his brief run he became a cult figure for his cocky demeanor, obvious talent and swashbuckling style. But away from the course, Kim said he was undone by his “addictive personality” and people around him who “enjoyed the same things.”

“The mind is a very tricky, scary place,” he said, “and unfortunately, I didn’t handle it well before.”

Kim managed just two top-10s in his final two seasons on Tour, as he began to battle injuries and an erratic driver.

What can he still accomplish, after all of this time away?

“I believe I can absolutely do it at that level again,” he said. “I’m prepared more than ever for success. I don’t think in my first career I was because I didn’t know what to expect. It was my mistakes that are the reasons that I fell down into this deep hole. Having better people around this time definitely helps.”