The Round Table takes on cult hero Anthony Kim and college drop-out Nick Dunlap

Each week we ask our panel of writers, PGA members and golf industry experts to weigh in with their views on the hot topics of the day.

Last week a report was published that Anthony Kim is or may be plotting a return to professional golf. Kim, who had a reputation as a hard partying, fast talking gunslinger on the PGA Tour, was plagued by injuries during a short career that saw him nab five wins. He hasn’t played competitively since injuries forced him away from the PGA Tour in 2012 and since that time, the cult of AK has only grown, as people have reported sightings, speculated about where he went and what his plans for pro golf might be. It’s been suggested he could go to LIV Golf or try again on the PGA Tour. At age 38, with over a decade of rust on his game, either option may be a longshot. What’s your take on AK, where’s he’s going and how he might fare if he does return?

Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): Being a purist and a traditionalist (AKA Mr. Boring), I was never a fan or admirer of Anthony Kim. I always thought he was a self-centred, self-promoting show-off, not my kinda guy. So, I would be overwhelmingly disinterested if he came back. If he does come back, hope it’s to the LIV Tour, which I pay no attention to. That said, I was under the impression that Kim was being paid a whopping insurance settlement, provided he never plays golf again. Does this mean he’s been paid out, and CAN return to pro golf?

Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Hall of Fame Member, PGA of Canada: Boy, will you ever think I woke on the wrong side today. I didn’t like Anthony Kim then and nothing has happened since to change my mind. I admire self-confidence but dislike arrogance. I like respect and appreciation both for oneself and others but dislike disdain, open cockiness and trodding over others. I wish him well.

TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): I for one don’t understand the hype.  I know he had a couple of good stretches, and performed well in the Ryder Cup, but he wasn’t a dominant player or anything.  I guess it’ll be interesting if he is actually competitive fairly quickly, but otherwise it doesn’t pique my interest all that much.  There is so much talent on the Tour these days that it’ll be tough for him to make a dent, but if he does, it will be a story worth paying attention to at that time.

Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: The key to this whole social media-fuelled non-story is Kim’s injury insurance policy. Only LIV’s golf washing bucks could rival that security blanket. No cut, 54 -hole events would be ideal for a guy who hasn’t played since Trump was just an orange-haired self-described ‘tycoon’. If Kim hasn’t burned through the policy’s cash, he might be better off just staying off the web’s radar.

Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): Kim added pizzazz to professional golf that his nameless, faceless, khaki-clad peers didn’t possess. But that was fifteen years ago. A comeback with LIV makes the most sense financially but I fear that time will have eroded AK’s competitive game and any comeback will be but a mere short-term sideshow. The cult of AK is strongest when it remains an enigma in the shadows.

Apparently, Nick Dunlap doesn’t heed the advice of the Round Table. All of the panel except Mr. Loughry suggested he stay in school, at least a while longer but he’s decided to drop out and start his pro career this week at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. In terms of experience, Dunlap has less than a dozen PGA Tour events under his belt, no Korn Ferry or PGA Tour Americas events and he’s just 20 years old. However, he did win the U.S. Amateur and he became the first amateur since Phil Mickelson 31 years ago to win on the PGA Tour. How big an edge are those wins in determining the success he has on the PGA Tour? And do you expect him to be another phenom like Phil or something a little less grand?

Deeks: I’d love to see Dunlap be more than a flash-in-the-pan. But Phil Mickelson aside, the golf highway is strewn with guys who were touted as the Second Coming, only to flame out in record time…  Aaron Baddeley, Ryo Ishikawa, Ricky Barnes, Bryson DeChambeau, Will Zalatoris (still a work in progress), and about a dozen others whose names I can’t remember anymore. Even Anthony Kim. My guess is Dunlap won’t turn out to be The It Boy either. Maybe he’ll win one or two more run-of-the-mill PGA events, but of course, careers are really defined by Majors Won.

Schurman: For many, the US Amateur was validation enough to pursue a professional career. When you add a PGA TOUR victory Dunlap has earned his place in elite golf circles. However, what if something goes wrong; something out of his control? Acquiring a university degree is far more than winning the NCAA Team Championship. it is about discipline, accomplishment, and developing your brain to think on a broader scale. to become more worldly. He will only get one chance for a formal education while all of the other benefits regarding golf remain in place waiting for him. He wouldn’t be the first to show great promise and not deliver. Besides, he will miss staying in the “Crow’s Nest”

Rule: I guess the lure of an NCAA championship didn’t beat out the sight of buckets full of money, and I can’t blame him.  He has two years to solidify his spot on Tour to keep his card and start what looks to be a very good career.  There have been many phenoms over the years that fizzled out, so it’s hard to predict if he’ll become a superstar but he seems to have all of the tools.  I’m looking forward to seeing how he fares in the majors this year, that will tell us a lot!

Quinn: Shocking, a 20-year-old not heeding the advice of his elders, well except for one. Getting out of the study hall and into the no-cut enhanced events, or whatever they’re calling them now, will take care of his ‘Bama expenses that weren’t covered by his scholarship. Young bombers like Dunlap have been playing in ‘big’ events since before they were teens, and he’s won his share. So now that he’s won on Tour, playing regularly with the big guys ain’t going to be intimidating, nor is playing for big cheques (checks). He could be America’s answer to Äberg, who also did a quick jump from college. Watching them duelling would be worth cutting class.

Mumford: A U.S. Amateur and a PGA Tour win attest to Dunlap’s skills and mental strength. He didn’t wilt or crack under the pressure at the Amex, so perhaps the timing of his pro debut is right. For me, he’s on the same track as Ludvig Aberg or Rose Zhang: massive upside potential, bolstered by an early pro victory and tremendous amateur record. Too early to tell if he’s the next Mickelson – that record was built over many years – but he’s already way ahead of anyone else contending for the title.

Each year The Match tantalizes us with the names of four players that will captivate our attention in a made-for-TV event. (Feb 26 in West Palm Beach, FL) And every year, we collectively yawn and move on. This year, the participants are Rory McIlroy, Max Homa, Lexi Thompson and Rose Zhang. Is there anything there to get you excited this year?

Deeks: Not a thing. I think I’ll use that time to either clean out my fridge or build a bird house. And I don’t even LIKE birds. (By the way, à propos of nothing, I was thoroughly impressed and excited by Lydia Ko and Nelly Korda’s respective eagle-par and eagle-birdie finishes in the LPGA Drive-On Championship on Sunday. And dismayed that the colourful Tyrrell Hatton has now jumped ship for the evil money of the LIV Tour.)

Schurman: I couldn’t care less about this match. I’ll watch it so I can write something on this blog.

Rule: I like that it’s four professional golfers this year at least, instead of watching celebrities hack it around.  But will I watch it?  Not likely.  At least they are trying, by bringing in what I find to be interesting characters, at least on the male side.  Can’t say that Lexi and Rose are the most dynamic personalities but they are fun to watch play.

Quinn: The short answer is “no!” The long answer is “Heck No!” It’s as if these things were made for folks with 21-inch black and white TVs with no remote and no other channels. Enough already.

Mumford: They’ve made some changes to The Match to make it more watchable: mixed teams, skins format, just 12 holes. Plus, it will be under the lights again, this time on a revamped public course. The broadcast team may be as famous as the players with NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, Masters Champion Trevor Immelman and Grammy winner DJ Khaled. Is that enough? Not likely, but there’s no Leaf game on that night so there’s a chance.

 

The Round Table
The Round Table is a panel of golf writers, PGA members and industry experts.

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