Tour Confidential: Anthony Kim’s return? The Charlie Woods dilemma and more

GOLF editors offer their unfiltered opinions on Anthony Kim, Charlie Woods and other big stories from the week in golf.

The post Tour Confidential: Anthony Kim’s return? The Charlie Woods dilemma and more appeared first on Golf.

GOLF editors offer their unfiltered opinions on Anthony Kim, Charlie Woods and other big stories from the week in golf.

The post Tour Confidential: Anthony Kim’s return? The Charlie Woods dilemma and more appeared first on Golf.

Check in every week for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors as they break down the hottest topics in the sport, and join the conversation by tweeting us at @golf_com. This week we discuss Anthony Kim’s return to competitive golf, the public attention surrounding Charlie Woods, tweaks to Augusta National, and more.

1. According to Golf Channel, Anthony Kim will play in LIV Golf’s Saudi Arabia event this week, which would mark his first professional start in more than a decade. We reported last month that Kim was mulling a return to either the PGA Tour or LIV Golf, and now, it appears, Kim has made his decision. Does LIV feel like the right landing place for him?

Anthony Kim smiles while hiding from rain at 2011 Open Championship

Anthony Kim to play LIV Golf event next week: Report

By: Kevin Cunningham

Josh Sens, senior writer (@joshsens): Seems like an easy decision for Kim. Safe and sensible. So much so that I can’t imagine he really gave the PGA Tour much serious consideration. The route he has chosen is essentially a free roll. Guaranteed money. If he plays well, it’s heroic. If he struggles, he has a good excuse. 

Jack Hirsh, assistant editor (@JR_HIRSHey): I agree with Sens. Kim will likely at least be getting the value of his insurance policy (reportedly $10 million) upfront. Do I think he wants to fly all the way to Saudi Arabia to go back to competitive golf? It’s interesting, to say the least. For LIV it’s a no-brainer because, at least for this week’s event and its next U.S. event (the week before the Masters in Miami), lots of golf fans will no doubt tune in to see the man who has become something of a mythical figure in the game. The timing is questionable given that LIV’s next two events are both in Asia, meaning the broadcasts will either be in the wee hours of the morning or on tape delay in other major markets.

Sean Zak, senior editor (@sean_zak): This is gonna sell some tickets in Miami. You can bet on that. In fact, I LOVE the comeback starting in Saudi Arabia. Golf fans in the States will wake up to his scores every morning. And where can they watch highlights? LIV’s YouTube channel. LIV’s social feeds. Two weeks abroad, then back to Miami, which has probably been the most comfy location for LIV to date. All of that one week before Augusta. It checks out more than people will give credit to. 

2. All these years later, what’s your read on Kim’s Q rating and the kind of impact he potentially could have on drawing attention and eyeballs to LIV?

close up of anthony kim's blinged-out belt buckle

Anthony Kim might return to pro golf. What’s his value if he does?

By: Alan Bastable

Sens:  I’d expect the curiosity factor to draw a lot of eyeballs to begin with. How can you not want to see how he fares after such a long layoff and all the questions that surrounded him? But unless he plays great — which seems unlikely — I suspect the interest will be short-lived. Some stories are more compelling when they remain a mystery. 

Hirsh: I mentioned this above, but at least for his first rounds, I’m willing to bank on LIV drawing some fairly good ratings, but they’ll be hurt by the time differences. If Kim plays well in Jeddah and Hong Kong, LIV Miami could provide some serious competition to the PGA Tour’s Texas Open the week before the Masters.

Zak: He’ll be the talk of Twitter this week. What is that actually worth? It’s more than the other wildcard players on LIV are doing. Which makes him worth another drop-in-the-bucket bunch of money. 

3. Charlie Woods shot 86 in a Cognizant Classic pre-qualifier — the first PGA Tour-sanctioned event he’s entered — to miss out on qualifying for next week’s event at PGA National. A 12 and a couple of other big numbers derailed his round, which was reportedly marred by unruly fan behavior. Charlie’s play led to much discussion online about what is the appropriate amount of attention — from fans, media and spectators in attendance — to focus on a 15-year-old’s competitive pursuits, even if his father does happen to be the world’s most famous golfer. What’s your read?

Charlie Woods looks on during pre-qualifying for The Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches at Lost Lake Golf Club on February 22, 2024 in Hobe Sound, Florida.

Tiger Woods’ son Charlie shoots 86 in PGA Tour pre-qualifier

By: Jessica Marksbury

Sens: All the buzz around Charlie Woods has been entirely unsurprising. But that hasn’t made it any less cringey, as the kids say. It feels cheap and voyeuristic but also in keeping with our sports/celebrity-obsessed culture. It reminds me of what the Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic said when he was asked what he thought about fans’ fascination with knowing every wrinkle of his life. He said he thought it was ‘sad.’

Hirsh: He obviously has talent. Playing in a PGA Tour Pre-Q at 15 is impressive no matter how you slice it. Getting those kinds of competitive reps is invaluable. We know he’s put up some good scores. I think most people realize it’s unfair to put the expectations his father had on him, but at the same time, the interest might be just as great. I’m hesitant to show much interest in Charlie because the chance of him earning his PGA Tour card in the next five years is probably the same as him deciding he doesn’t want to play golf at all. I don’t think a crowd of 50 following him at a qualifier is outrageous, but what is outrageous is grandparents pulling their granddaughters out of school in hopes of him going out with them. Same goes for asking him for autographs while he was playing. It’s interesting because LeBron James’ kids didn’t have the same level of pandemonium at their high school events. I think when he wins something big or tries to play at the pro level, it’s certainly newsworthy, but he still needs to be treated like a human. Other than that, let the teenager live his life.

Zak: My read is that this is exactly how society typically acts. He’s marketable because of his last name, so people flock to him. Unfortunately, he hasn’t asked for any of that attention, nor has he deserved it. So it’ll feel pretty angsty online whenever he plays another high-level tournament. But that’s the online world for ya. 

3. Augusta National announced three special invites to the 2024 Masters in Joaquin Niemann, Thorbjørn Olesen and Ryo Hisatsune in what chairman Fred Ridley said was a part of the tournament’s “long-standing tradition of inviting leading international players who are not otherwise qualified” to the Masters. Niemann’s brief bio, however, didn’t mention his LIV Golf accomplishments, including his latest win earlier this month. Is that something…or nothing? And, if something, what does it tell us?

Liv pro Joaquin Niemann plays chip shot during 2023 Masters

Augusta announces surprise Masters invites to LIV golfer, two others

By: Kevin Cunningham

Sens: The people who run the Masters don’t just speak off the cuff. A conscious decision was made to omit any reference to LIV, and the implicit message is that the green jackets are either put off by LIV and the ruckus it has caused (antitrust investigations, lawsuits, etc)  or do not regard LIV as competitively relevant. Probably a bit of both.

Hirsh: Agree with Sens here. It tells you that Augusta doesn’t yet believe LIV carries a lot of weight. The Niemann exemption surely caught me off guard and it will be interesting to see if any other non-exempt LIV winners are invited given how small the Masters field will be this year.

Zak: It tells us that Augusta National is probably still annoyed that its existence has been made more difficult because of LIV Golf. Augusta members were being included in lawsuit documents. The club’s leadership was being accused of collusion. The Department of Justice was investigating ANGC’s role in fair competition practices. That puts the most exclusive and famous club in the world in a place it does not want to be. And I think they haven’t forgotten it. Also, their reigning champ was bought. 

4. The next made-for-TV Match — and the first to include female players — is set for Monday at The Park in West Palm Beach, Fla. The 12-hole event will feature Rose Zhang, Lexi Thompson, Rory McIlroy and Max Homa. What are you hoping to see from this ninth iteration of the event?

max homa, rose zhang, rory mcilroy and lexi thompson

4 reasons this edition of The Match will be very different (and better!)

By: Sean Zak

Sens: I hope Lexi and Rose win all the skins, talking ample smack along the way. 

Hirsh: Thank god there are no amateurs in this one. I’m actually excited for this one, especially after Lexi almost made the cut in a Tour event last year and how successful the Grant Thornton was. Mixed golf is the future of the sport!

Sens: The future of the sport? It adds a fun dimension, but let’s not go overboard here, Jack.

Zak: I’m with Sens. I want some smack talk from Rose Zhang. I don’t know if she has that in her personality, but she’s good enough to walk the walk, and she’s fun to listen to. So a mic’d up opportunity for her to talk some talk? I’m in. 

5. Augusta National lengthened its par-5 2nd hole — moving the tee box back 10 yards and to the left — so the downhill dogleg will now play 585 yards. Last year the 2nd played as the easiest hole at Augusta, and it ranks as the second-easiest all time. Will we notice the change come Masters week? And, just for fun, what’s a semi-aggressive tweak you’d make to the course that the green jackets likely would not consider but should?

augusta national clubhouse

Augusta National making a notable course change for this year’s Masters

By: Zephyr Melton

Sens: I’m not sure I understand the need to tweak the 2nd. One of the 18 holes has to play the easiest. What’s wrong with it being a par 5 early in the round? Because Augusta doesn’t do things without careful consideration, I am counting on it making at least a modest difference over the course of the week. If you have to hit it farther with a bit more shape, it stands to reason that fewer players will reach in two. I don’t know whether that makes it a better hole. As for other tweaks, what about a greater potential for catastrophe on the final couple holes, like there is at the Players, just to put the squeeze on someone with a big lead? Adding water would be goofy. But if you put a deep fairway bunker on 17, you’d tighten up an already tough tee shot and leave the potential for a very tough approach from the sand to a very perplexing green. 

Hirsh: This is an obvious way to further combat the latest trend in the game. More and more of the best players in the world are playing cuts off the tee. Moving the tee back and to the left makes hitting a left-to-right shot much more difficult. I personally love No. 2, it might be my favorite hole after 13, but I like the idea of going all in on asking your champ to hit a draw around the trees and inside the bunker four days in a row. 

This will never happen, but Augusta would be brutal with four-inch rough. Make ‘em suffer.

Zak: I think we’ll see more balls end up in that right fairway bunker on No. 2. And maybe fewer balls in the left trees, aka the Delta Counter, for the quickest flight home. That isn’t necessarily great, not necessarily bad. Probably a slight bump in the scoring average. But no one will notice. It’s too far from Amen Corner for anyone to care enough. 

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