Anthony Kim on his first Masters

Here’s the transcript of an interview with Anthony Kim from the Masters. In it he discuses his early-season travels to golf tournaments overseas, his latest injury and that special feeling of playing in his first Masters.

Q. You think you know what it looks like when you see it on TV, what was it like when you walked out there for the first time?
ANTHONY KIM: TV doesn’t do it justice, and I’ve heard that from other guys. Because I thought if I played well early in the year last year, I would have a tee time here. I didn’t get the job done. But I watched it on TV a little bit and saw some of the putts and chips rolling off the greens, and couldn’t believe that some of the good chippers and putters are putting them off the green.
So I knew I was in for a big surprise, and it certainly shows here.

Q. What did you think of the five holes you played today?
ANTHONY KIM: Windy. I just got back from the Shell and we played in 30-mile-an-hour gusts. So I thought that was done with, and now I get to come out to the green grass and calm — I guess a little bit calmer winds. But still, I’ve heard that it pretty gusty out here at times and swirls through the trees, but I didn’t expect this.

Q. How are you feeling energy-wise? We were discussing whether some players might be second-guessing Houston.
ANTHONY KIM: We definitely played a lot of golf, but I’m 23 years old, so it was my first week — it was my first week of this two-week stretch. So I feel pretty fresh, and starting to get healthy again and just excited to be playing on the PGA TOUR and in my first Masters.

Q. Curious about your overall impressions of being at the club and on the course and the atmosphere and walking around, just sort of your sense of what it feels like for you.
ANTHONY KIM: It was so special, driving out here, even though we were stuck in traffic, I was anticipating driving down Magnolia Lane, which we didn’t get to do, but we went to the back. It was so special going through those gates. My parents were in the car. My best friend was in the car. I had a really good friend of mine who helped me with my golf swing in the car. It was very special to finally come up here and walk on the grounds.

Q. Were you on the grounds when you got rained out, whenever that was?
ANTHONY KIM: No. Today was my first time. It was nice to come with my mom and my dad the first time.

Q. Just to follow up on the minutia here, what you came here to practice, what did you do with when it rained?
ANTHONY KIM: I just went to my hotel room and went straight to the airport. I came the night after Doral, got in about nine o’clock and woke up and it was raining. So I just left that day, that morning.

Q. Did you at least go to a Waffle House or anything?
ANTHONY KIM: I did go to IHOP. (Laughter).

Q. Has this been a frustrating start to the season in some ways, because of the physical problems and just having trouble getting started, or how would you characterize it?
ANTHONY KIM: It’s definitely been a test of patience. I feel like I’m doing a good job of hanging in there, because it has been frustrating. Even last week, I played pretty poorly and made some uncharacteristic mistakes out there.
But I kept hanging in there, kept staying patient, and at the end, had an outside chance of winning the golf tournament. I was 8-under with ten holes to go and the leaders were at 11. I just didn’t make that final push and I think I’m just starting to find my golf swing and my golf game.
I’m just trying to stay as patient as possible, even though it’s very tough.

Q. Easy to second-guess. Wondering whether the overseas trips you made, whether looking in the rear-view mirror you would do it again?
ANTHONY KIM: I would do it again. I know that my first couple years out here, all I’m trying to do is gain experience, and obviously play better golf as I go along.
But at the same time, I don’t want to second-guess in five years, ten years, if, should I have gone or should I have made those trips overseas and not know exactly what is over there, and what to expect if I do play in a tournament over there.
So right now, I’m just trying to gain experience, and I’m happy that I went. It’s time to start getting the ball in the hole a little bit quicker.

Q. What do you think of given the fact that you’re not much older, we have three teenagers in this tournament who have already won professional tournaments this year. There’s guys younger than you, finally.
ANTHONY KIM: I feel really old. (Laughing).
No, I’ve gotten to know Danny a little bit, and he’s a great player. He’s got a lot of talent obviously, and is playing some tremendous golf over the last year and a half.
Is it Ryo Ishikawa; he’s obviously playing very well and he’s proven that he can play out here. I think they need a little bit of experience, but they are obviously in the mind-set to play golf out here.

Q. You were in that field at the one that Danny won; correct?
ANTHONY KIM: I was. That was Australia.

Q. And Camilo?
ANTHONY KIM: Camilo was there. You know, it’s a different brand of golf when you go over there. The greens are a lot slower. The areas were shaved down a little bit more. There was no rough out there.
It’s a totally different test than when you play out on the PGA TOUR. That’s not an excuse. I just wasn’t used to those conditions. That’s one of the reasons I’m glad I went over there, because I know there’s going to be a big tournament over there that I go over for again and I know that, and I’ll start practicing for it.

Q. There’s been a lot of looking to see who might come up and challenge Tiger; Sergio and maybe Adam Scott, and it seems like now, there’s quite a large group of prospects or possibilities. Do you think there’s something special about this time with so many young players, or is it just a matter of Tiger’s getting older, and everyone is going to be younger?
ANTHONY KIM: Tiger is not that old. But the quality of golf is definitely getting better with the younger generation. I think kids like myself and other guys are coming out with a lot — our skills are a lot more honed than just coming out here, hitting the ball as hard as you can and learning how to play golf.
Our technique probably is a lot better because we have access to great golf facilities, great coaches. And some people travel out here with mental coaches and trainers and all that.
So we are very fortunate to have that in our back pocket. So I think the level of golf in the younger generation is getting better and better.

Q. Rory said he didn’t feel like he was 19. Do you feel like you’re 23?
ANTHONY KIM: When I’m off the golf course, I feel like I’m 23. When I’m inside the ropes, I don’t know how old I am. Sometimes I feel like I’m six when I miss a 3-footer; and when I make a bomb, I feel like I’m 23 years old.

Q. No older?
ANTHONY KIM: No older.

Q. What would constitute as a real success for you at this Masters? A Top-10? Top-5? Top three? 1?
ANTHONY KIM: I hate to say it this way, but you don’t come to a golf tournament, even though it is about experience and knowing these greens and knowing the golf course without feeling like you’re here to win a golf tournament.
I know that if I didn’t feel that way, I wouldn’t be here. With that being said, there’s so many other guys that have played here that have had great careers that have never won here.
But I’m here to win the golf tournament, and I’ll do my best.

Q. Speaking of playing internationally, you have the R B.C. on your bag as a sponsor. Do you see yourself becoming kind of an international player?
ANTHONY KIM: Absolutely. The PGA TOUR is where my home is. That’s where I’m going to play my golf. But I do want to play all around the world and want to be an international player.
I feel like I owe it to my parents to go over to Korea. I owe it to myself and the fans over there to go. And why not? At 23, 24, 25 years old and being single, go travel the world and not have to worry about maybe missing my kids basketball game or something like that. And that’s what the veterans have told me. When you’re young, go out there and experience new things and go travel around the world to see what you like and what you dislike, where you want to go, where you don’t want to go.
So I’m still learning, but I’m glad I’m able to go to other countries and play golf.

Q. What did your match with Sergio at Louisville last year and that whole weekend do for you, looking back?
ANTHONY KIM: I think a couple of people figured out who I was after that week, because not a lot of people did.
For my confidence, it did wonders, because not just playing Sergio, but being a part of that, and playing some good golf and making some key putts, when there was some pressure on the line; I want to say that’s the most people I’ve ever played in front of.
Obviously as a golfer, you want to have that putt, and that’s why you practice. That’s why when you’re little, you dream to have that putt to win a golf tournament in front of everybody. I feel like that was as close as I’ve gotten to a major championship feel, to have a putt to win, to help the USA bring the Cup back after not having it for so long.
But knowing that I can do it in front of all those people and with quite a bit of pressure on the line.

Q. I know that you’ve never been shy about saying, I want to be No. 1 and not afraid to challenge Tiger, and Danny Lee has said the same thing; is that a function that unlike a lot of guys, you guys have not been worn out by him over the last few years by a lot of other golfers have?
ANTHONY KIM: I don’t know if that’s the case. But I can only speak for myself, and maybe this has a little to do with why Danny thinks that way. But when Tiger came out here, I think I was nine, ten years old, and I just watched him. I mean, I’ll watch Phil and I’ll watch Vijay, but Tiger was the guy that made golf cool.
When he got out here, all I carried about was his attitude and what he said, and how he got that good.
So he didn’t come to a golf tournament not thinking he could win. And he obviously showed that at the Match Play. Even though he lost, he felt like he was ready to play, even after that long layoff.
I think learning from guys like that, the younger generation feels that they have to do the same things and have the same mental attitude as Tiger to be the best.

Q. Could you give us a quick injury update? Because I’ve lost track of which injuries we’re talking about at the moment.
ANTHONY KIM: I don’t really know what’s going on with my body, either. I actually am almost 100%. Last week, I was making a swing with a driver and I pulled my hamstring.

Q. That’s a new one.
ANTHONY KIM: Yeah.

Q. On the golf course?
ANTHONY KIM: On the golf course.

Q. Swung out of your you-know-what, literally.
ANTHONY KIM: Swung out of my hamstring I guess. (Laughter).
It’s been fine. I’ve been getting treatment on it every day the last seven, eight days. Getting better. I’m going to be 100% and I expect to be 100% for the Masters.

Q. Your shoulder?
ANTHONY KIM: Everything else is fine. It finally got a 100% healthy and then tried to swing too hard one time. But I’ll be ready by Thursday.

Q. In watching this tournament over the years, what are the holes and the shots that you’re most looking forward to trying to duplicate once you get out there?
ANTHONY KIM: Well, I don’t want to — I don’t really want to say there’s one shot I’m looking forward to. The shot that Tiger made on 16, that chip was pretty amazing. But I don’t want to be there and have to hit that shot. (Laughter).
So I’m really just looking forward to hitting a lot of greens, maybe in the right sections, and making a couple of putts. But I think 16 and 18 are pretty special because I’ve seen a couple of people make hole-in-ones; when the pin is on the left side, the ball will roll toward the hole. I’ll have an opportunity to make a hole-in-one, so pretty excited about that.

Q. What are your plans for practice the rest of the week, do you have any games lined up?
ANTHONY KIM: No, not for me. Tomorrow at eight, I have two choices depending what time I wake up. I’ll let you guys know tomorrow who I play with.

Q. What are the choices?
ANTHONY KIM: I’m either going to play with Mark real early, O’Meara, or Phil a little bit later.

Q. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow.
ANTHONY KIM: Well then I’m going to try to wait the rain out.
BILLY MORRIS: Other questions? Well, Anthony, we wish you the very best, and good luck this week.

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About Jill Painter

Jill Painter is a sports columnist for the Los Angeles News Group, covering everything from the Dodgers, Lakers, Clippers, USC, UCLA, Kings, golf and all human interest stories in sports.