Anthony Kim won the Shell Houston Open in a sudden death playoff over Vaughn Taylor to win his third PGA tour title, and the first in 2 years. It was revealed today that he had been playing with a torn ligament in his thumb and that it will require surgery and keep him out of competition for a significant amount of time. He battled through the pain and won with the pressure of a playoff. He heads into the Masters, the first major of the golf season, with a lot of confidence and momentum, that is if his thumb can hold up.
AK had a putt to win it on the final hole of the tournament, but he wasn’t able to sink it, which pushed him into a playoff against Vaughn Taylor. However, he stood strong and focused to earn the Shell Houston Open win.
“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.”
“I just look back at last year, after the season was over, I was just complaining about everything,” Kim said. “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.”
LPGA golfer Christina Kim bares a little bit of her soul in her first book, “Swinging from My Heels: Confessions of an LPGA Star.” She gets a little personal and opens up the golf ropes for the world to see what life is like on the LPGA tour. She’s one of the loudest dressers and the more vocal players and among the Korean players, she stands out even more. Heck she was in the ESPN semi-nude athlete’s issue. She bares more in the book and it’s coming out in the next few weeks.
Some of the highlights from Christina Kim’s recently published book, “Swinging from My Heels: Confessions of an LPGA Star”:
• On her close friend and the world’s No. 1 female golfer,Lorena Ochoa: “I have little doubt she’ll retire after the 2012 season. That will give her ten years on tour, the minimum needed to qualify her for the Hall of Fame. She will be thirty-one then and eager to start popping out cute little Mexican babies. Lorena is like a comet passing by — you better enjoy her now, because she will be gone before you know it.”
• On the sexual orientation of players on tour: “Contrary to what many people think, we are not the Lesbians Playing Golf Association. By my count, there are no more than two dozen gay women playing the tour right now. Considering there are 230 active members, you’re only talking about 10 percent of the players … To every player I know the issue is just not that big a deal. There are no superfreaky homophobes out here or militant man haters … At most, a player’s sexuality may be an occasional practice-round conversation piece: ‘Hey did you hear that so and so likes girls?’ ‘Really? Huh. So did you hit an eight-iron or a nine?’ ”
• About the breakup with her longtime boyfriend and caddie: “Having a serious boyfriend gave me a richer, fuller life, but if I’m honest with myself, there were times when golf wasn’t my priority, and over the last few years I had been surpassed by a bunch of broads who don’t have more talent than I do but were definitely a lot more focused.”
• About her on-course temper tantrums: “I was told (by an LPGA official) I needed to improve my attitude and my language and start being a better role model. When the initial shock subsided, I was grateful for the pep talk. I had been oblivious to the fact that everyone on tour thought I was suffering from a case of permanent PMS.”
• On body image: “I’m a professional athlete, but I suffer from all the same insecurities as any other woman, and it’s magnified by having so many eyeballs on me during a tournament. There have been many days when I don’t like my hair or makeup or the way my clothes fit, and it’s hard to play well when you’re unhappy with how you look.”
• On South Korea’s influence on the tour: “There are so many misconceptions and misunderstandings, and it’s been that way for far too long. By the time I reached the LPGA Tour, the stereotype of the emotionless Korean golfer with an overbearing father was already an enduring cliché. … The fans and reporters who grouse, ‘Oh, those Koreans are all the same’ are just too lazy or narrow-minded to make the effort to get to know the individuals. … The LPGA’s biggest revenue stream is from Korean TV networks paying for the rights to broadcast our tournaments in Korea. So the next time a fan grouses that the Koreans are killing the LPGA, I hope someone will point out that, in this economy, it is Korean money that is keeping the tour afloat.”
• On cutting back on her shopping sprees: “Traditionally, I have celebrated every top-ten tournament finish with a little splurging, but this year I’ve stopped treating Saks Fifth Avenue like it was Costco.”
The AAU Sullivan Award honors the outstanding amateur athlete in the USA and Jennifer Song, a college golfer from USC was nominated for this prestigious student athlete award because of her incredible success in 2009. Presented annually since 1930, the Sullivan is based on leadership, character, sportsmanship and the ideals of amateurism.
Jennifer Song became the first woman in 21 years to win two U.S. Golf Association Championships in the same season. Song, who plays for Southern California, won the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links and the U.S. Women’s Amateur.
You can cast your vote so let’s give Jennifer Song a chance to become the first Korean-American to win this prestigious athletic award. CLICK HEREfor the ballot.
LPGA golfer Christina Kim showed up on The Golf Channel’s the Golf Fix with Michael Breed last week to share a few of her swing tips. She’s gearing up for the new golf season and it starts this week in Thailand as the LPGA kicks off its 2010 season. Before Christina hit a golf ball in Thailand, she IM’d an interview with Golf.com to talk about the off season and the future.
What have you been up to in the offseason?
Everything from working hard on my short game, trying new clubs, partying with friends, traveling to places, and playing around with social media.
You partied a lot. Clubs? House parties?
I didn’t go mad crazy partying all the time. Hahaha!!! Clubs, house parties, a lot of just chillin’ at friends’ places — that’s more accurate.
Let’s talk about the LPGA Tour. What do you see happening this year out there for yourself and the tour?
I see both myself and the LPGA Tour taking over by storm. I’m so stoked for the new season. The LPGA is rising again after a brief lull, and the world is ready for something new to stumble upon.
Anthony Kim played on the west team on Friday night’s NBA All-Star Celebrity game, which included other celebs and athletes like Chris Tucker, Terrell Owens, Mark Cuban and Common. He played great defensive (including a steal), lead a couple of fast breaks, and dis’d out a couple of nifty passes. I believe this is the first Korean-American to ever participate in an NBA All-Star celebrity game. SWEET! Now if we could finally get someone to play in the NBA full-time. Anthony Kim must have been a kid in a candy store because not only did he play basketball at All-Star weekend, but he was coached by Magic Johnson, the player he grew up watching and idolizing as a Laker’s fan.
Anthony Kim made a guest appearance on The Jay Leno show on Monday night to teach Jessica Alba how to putt. First it’s pretty cool that Jay Leno referred to AK as his friend and he was on national television, and secondly, it was really cool that AK got to cozy on up to Jessica Alba and teach her how to putt. She almost made the first putt after Anthony’s instruction but she left it a little short though it was on line to go in. It was then AK’s turn and he quickly set up and stroked a power putt up the ramp into the buddha statue for a hole in one. Sure he’s a professional, but there had to be some nerves putting in front of a national television audience on a contrived hole. Check it out below!
Y.E. Yang made a big splash this year by doing the impossible and that was take down Tiger Woods (when Tiger wasn’t with a lady of the night). When we mean the impossible, we’re referring to his unbelievable defeat of Tiger Woods at a major golf championship: The PGA Championship at Hazeltine. To put this into perspective, Tiger Woods had never lost a major championship when leading in the final round of a major golf tournament. However, it was Y.E. Yang of all Korean golfers (Anthony Kim, K.J. Choi) that stared down the greatest golfer of our generation and maybe of all time, and executed one of the greatest shots on the final hole (72nd) of a major golf championship. He perfectly landed a hybrid shot that set up the birdie to bring down the hammer on Tiger Woods on the 18th hole. No one east of Hawai’i would have predicted that Y.E. Yang would be the first Korean golfer to win a major golf tournament and no one in their right mind would have bet on Y.E. Yang beating Tiger head to head in the final group of a golf major. Y.E. Yang is #7 on our top ten list of most influential Korean-Americans because he not only broke through to victory on one of golf’s biggest stage, but he showed the whole world that Tiger was beatable and that you could go toe to toe with the greatest golfer in the world. And now the rest of the golf world knows that you can beat Tiger (on the golf course ;). He made believers out of everyone!
It’s been a long time coming for Michelle Wie but she finally did it. She won for the first time in a professional tournament. Michelle Wie competed at the LPGA’s Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Guadalajara, Mexico and she walked away with the trophy with a two stroke victory. She finished off in style with a birdie on her final hole. The question is will this win propel her to new heights? She had been criticized by many for competing in men’s tournaments and for not doing enough on the women’s tour. Well, she’s got her first win and perhaps this will lift a weight off of Michelle’s shoulders.
Having spent her teens bouncing between tours and continents, Wie, 20, had finally found some stability this season as a full-fledged LPGA rookie. Even before her victory at the penultimate tournament of the year it had been a successful campaign defined by solid results, new friendships and a starring role at the Solheim Cup, during which Wie was overcome by a fist-pumping passion that was utterly foreign for a player who has always worn an icy gameface. The only thing missing was an individual victory, a familiar story for a player, who until Sunday had not won a tournament of any kind since the 2003 U.S. Publinks Amatuer, when she was a 13 year-old with a impossibly perfect swing and endless future. Back then no one could have imaged another victory would be such a long time coming. But Wie used the many blown chances and missed opportunities as a journey of self-discovery, and along the way the giggly, goofy tween phenom grew into a self-possessed young woman.
Susan Choi was first seen on The Golf Channel’s “Big Break Ka’anapali,” and since then she’s been pursuing the unexpected dream of playing golf on the LPGA Tour. Now a Korean woman playing golf is nothing out of the ordinary because there are many of them playing on the LPGA tour, but what we found unique about Susan Choi was that her journey was a somewhat circuitous route to golf. If you follow ladies golf, you’ll know that many of the Korean women out there pounded their way to the tour through practice, practice and more practice. Susan on the other hand found herself at Wellesley, studying hard and playing college golf at the all-women’s college. Wellesley is not known for producing professional golfers, but rather doctors, lawyers, politicians (Hillary Clinton is a graduate) and educated leaders of tomorrow. When Susan played her Freshman year at Wellesley, she was having fun and scoring in the 90s. However, in a couple of years, her game progressed quickly to shooting in the 70s. You would be hard pressed to find a guy who could improve his scores from the 90s to the 70s in such short a time.
This week is the qualifying tournament for the Duramed Futures Tour, the developmental golf tour for the ladies. Susan is playing in the tournament down in Florida with the hopes of getting status on the tour. We chatted with Susan earlier this fall and what we found was someone who isn’t shy like her Korean golfing counterparts, but someone who is really driven and happy to have found herself playing a sport she really loves. She also gives back and everyone loves this gal! It’s hard not to root for Susan Choi.
When did you start playing golf?
When I was younger my dad would take me to the driving range. He would try to bribe me and say he’d buy me McDonald’s if I would go to the range with him. So my dad bribed me with food. My parents really wanted me to get some exercise and go to the range.
I went to the Spring Rock Golf center in New Hyde Park; it has two levels. I went there real late at night after dinner. We would play Bethpage at Twilight for 9 holes.
My sister played for fun. I honestly think she could have been a real good player. We were really into music and she took that route. We were both into music and golf. I think music helped my golf. In a way I’m glad that I took up golf because it kept me focused during high school. I had a lot of fun practicing with my dad and challenging myself.
So you played golf at Wellesley?
I played golf all 4 years.
When did you think you could become good at golf?
I probably realized it by my junior year – probably end of sophomore year. This is so much fun and I’d rather be out here than in lab. My coach guided me my junior year and I told him that I wanted to go on tour. He gave me an honest talk about how hard it would be. I improved so much from first year to my junior year. If you look at my scoring average, I improved dramatically each year: 90s to 80s to 70s. I just remember having so much fun and also improving so much and believing that I could do this.
I told him that I wouldn’t miss practice and I’d put in extra practice. During senior year I really showed a lot by knocking down my scoring average to 75, compared to 90 something my freshman year. I won 8 tournaments in a row my senior year.
What was the key to improving?
Having a plan: practice with a purpose. I needed a little guidance with course management: knowing what kind of shot I was going to hit. I made it a more perfect practice. I always had fun practicing because I made it a game. I became focused with practice: working on my weaknesses and turning them into strengths.
I actually turned professional in 2008 because of the show I was on: The Big Break. I was actually going to stay amateur one more year. I haven’t had that much experience in tournament golf. The only way to get better is to play tournaments. It is very different because it’s a different setting, atmosphere, player, and the pressure. You learn a lot from these players. It’s at first intimidating but I learned a lot by watching other people during my first year. I also played on the Canadian tour and other mini-tours.
What was most surprising when you started playing professionally?
How expensive everything was. I don’t come from a lot of money. I would stay at the most ghetto motels and it was kind of scary. Knowing how to travel and knowing your stuff like setting up practice rounds, renting car, hotels, etc — it can be hectic and chaotic. That was one of my goals – to be very organized.
When you first arrived on the Duramed Futures Tour, what were the players like?
Everyone is nice to each other. I noticed there are lot of cliques out there. There are many Division I players out there and I came from a Division III school. These girls are very focused on getting to the tour. You sense that competitiveness they got from Division I schools. They’re all super sweet but they’re very competitive and really good.
I feel like I have the skills but I need the experience. If I continue to workout hard and keep practicing, I’ll develop faster. If you have a good support team, it helps out a lot. My coach has been so good to me. He really believes in me. He’ll get mad if I don’t do a workout. He doesn’t get mad at a bad score.
What motivates you?
I’m very family oriented and my family motivates me. I keep pictures of them. I see them when I first wake up and therefore I get up quicker.
Does it get lonely out there?
Honestly, it does. You just keep focused and you keep yourself busy.
It’s hard to have balance. It’s tiring after the end of a round, and sometimes you can’t go out because you have to get up early for a round. I do feel very blessed!
What do you do for fun?
I do a lot. This past year, I needed something to rejuvenate me so I did a bunch of charity stuff and corporate outings. I’m one of the founders of the golfprogirls.com website. It’s a website with interviews of notable golf people and has other things like golf destinations and things about rules, etiquette and where to get the best gear.
So what is your goal now?
My main goal is to play tournament golf and make it on tour.
What do you need to do to make the LPGA Tour?
When I play at a course, I need to be good at course management. I need to make more birdies; what are the best spots for birdies. Everything is fine with the swing – just need to believe in yourself. It’s more attitude than skill.
I’ve been working on my attitude, even talking about it after a round. If you talk to yourself in a positive way, it changes everything.
Last question and it’s off topic but what is your favorite Korean food?
I love kogi (Korean BBQ)!
You can find out more on Susan Choi at her website Susan Choi Golf. Susan recently won the J&J New England Women’s Open Championship and placed second at the Sun Coast Series event.
ESPN finally published their “Body Issue” which shows athletes in their birthday suits. And yes there’s a Korean-American woman who bares it all. She is LPGA golfer Christina Kim, and she’s joined by other fellow golfers Anna Grzebien and Sandra Gal. The “Body Issue” is getting some great reviews because it’s done very artistically and it actually reveals not simply a nude body, but it shows some of the pain and hurt that these athletes have endured. The body is a beautiful thing. If you don’t know Christina Kim, she’s a Korean-American golfer who’s had great success on the LPGA tour. She’s one of the more personable and animated golfers on tour, and she’s willing to share her thoughts. She’s one of the most followed LPGA tour players on Twitter. For a little more on Christina Kim, check out our interview below when we met up with her at a LPGA tour event earlier this summer.