Anthony Kim and his injured thumb are nearing an inevitable impasse
Quail Hollow holds a special place in Anthony Kim’s heart. Besides being the first PGA Tour event Kim ever won, the victory was even sweeter because of the field he had to hold off to win the event. Phil Mickelson, Stewart Cink, Fred Couples; they were all there to witness Kim lap the field and win by five shots in 2008.
So when A.K. pulled up a chair inside the press tent on Tuesday prior to the first round, many would have figured his recent form in Houston and Augusta, or possibly his win in 2008, would have been the topic of the day. Far from it.
Instead, Kim spent almost 80 percent of the time talking about one of the hottest topics on tour at the moment: his injured left thumb.
As I mentioned almost two weeks ago on this very site, Kim is nursing what is now being called a torn ligament in his left thumb.
The injury, which has been bothering Kim since last season, has been a nuisance for too long. And while Kim is playing some of the most flawless golf of his young career, it would appear he’s ready to shut things down and possibly miss a major (or two) to get things in order.
“[Surgery] going to happen,” Kim said. “It’s just a matter of when, and the doctor has told me when the pain gets too hard to deal with, that’s when I should do it. But as of now he said it can’t get any worse, so I guess that’s a good thing. I’m just going to keep playing until I can’t anymore.”
While that’s a pretty vague timetable, it’s pretty clear Kim has his heart set on playing in the Ryder Cup in October at Celtic Manor. The events date later in the year means Kim will need to take some time off to rehab after surgery. That’s all assuming he still goes through with it before the end of the season.
When asked if he could fight through an entire season with the injury, and play in the Ryder Cup, Kim made it very clear that he’s not willing to take that risk.
“I don’t think I’m going to take that chance because I want to play in the Ryder Cup, and that’s a huge goal of mine,” Kim said. “It was probably one of the greatest moments I’ve had playing golf, or greatest weeks I’ve had playing golf, playing for the U.S., dreaming about being on that team. So I want to be healthy for that. I just want to time it right.”
So how long does it take for a thumb ligament to heal before you can get back on the golf course? Kim says 2-3 months, so let’s assume it takes the maximum time to heal. The Ryder Cup is in October, meaning Kim would need to shut things down by the beginning of July to let his thumb heal properly, while still having time to get back into golf shape before the event.
That timetable would mean he’d most likely miss the British Open at St. Andrews (July 15-18) and the PGA Championship (August 12-15). Assuming he tried to rush back, there’s still a chance the British Open could be in the picture. But again, that all depends on how much pain the thumb is giving him.
I honestly can’t imagine the grind of playing four straight rounds of tournament golf (plus the pro-am and practice rounds) with the injury. One would assume that you learn to live with the pain at some point. Even still, it looks like we probably won’t be seeing A.K. much longer this year.
Given his age and his popularity in the sport, it makes total sense to see him starting the process of mentally preparing to shut things down. The game will miss him while he’s out but I’m pretty sure he’ll come back with a renewed sense of purpose when he does decide to tee it up again in the future.