Anthony Kim records 11-birdie second round

Anthony KimIt’s hard for anything at the Masters (or any golf tournament, for that matter) to come close to matching the perennial “How is Tiger Woods doing?” story. Even Rocco Mediate’s amazing underdog bid in last year’s U.S. Open played second banana to Woods’ gut-it-out victory on a broken leg.

A prime example of the immensity of Tiger’s shadow is the lack of buzz surrounding Anthony Kim. The guy is hardly an unknown to serious golf fans, but the 23-year old phenom has managed to fly largely under the national radar.

Yesterday, Kim made Masters history by recording a single-round record 11 birdies. Naturally, it was overshadowed by Woods’ day, as everyone chose to talk about Tiger’s missed opportunities on the putting green.

Kim has often been mentioned in the same breath as Woods: Is he the next Tiger?, critics ask. These questions are dismissed quickly — after all, Tiger will likely go down as the greatest to ever play the game. But how about this for a comparison: Can Kim become who Sergio Garcia was supposed to some 10 years ago? Can Kim be the talented gunner with both the skill and confidence to challenge Tiger as a young pro and eventually eclipse him as Tiger gets on in years? Will he be the one to finally give us a real Tiger rivalry?

It’s clear Kim has the talent, and many accounts say that he’s also got the hubris to challenge Tiger’s (check out this feature Golf Magazine wrote about him).

Only time will tell, but do yourself a favor and take a break from the Tiger watch this weekend to scope out Kim’s game (he heads into round 3 in a tie for sixth-place at -4, and tees off at 2:25 p.m.).

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Young and old golfers vying to dismantle Tiger’s hold of the PGA

January opens a new chapter to all our lives, but it is a sign of renewal for some of our favorite pastimes as well. The PGA tour started their 2009 play on the isles of Hawaii as they begin their annual West Coast swing of the golf season. Golfers young and old are scrambling to establish themselves on the tour before the #1 player in the world comes back to work in late March.

Many believe that Anthony Kim has the attitude and game to compete with Tiger Woods this season. Camilo Villegas was a star in waiting during his first two years on the tour and blossomed during the 2008 FedEx Cup playoffs with two tournament victories. Both players have become the poster boys for the youth movement on the tour, but their success will be measured by tournament wins, especially capturing multiple major titles.

Defending FedEx Cup champion Vijay Singh did compete in the first tournament of the season, but will sit out the remainder of the West Coast swing. He will have knee surgery to repair a torn cartilage and is expected to miss five weeks of action. Sergio Garcia still remains the best player on the tour not to have won a major title. He tied for second place in the PGA Championship last year and has finished with a top-five finish in three of the last four British Opens. Unfortunately for Garcia, no trophies are given to the runner-up. And then there is the dilemma of Phil Mickelson.

Lefty had won a major tournament in three consecutive years before losing the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot with a double bogey on the 18th hole. Since then, Mickelson has not won a major and more importantly his round play has been inconsistent. Lefty in his last 10 major appearances has missed the cut twice and finished a combined 80 shots out of the lead. Drastic times call for drastic measures, and golf swing guru Butch Harmon has been brought in to assist Mickelson in regaining his stroke for the coming season.

What would a PGA tour preview be without a Tiger update? Well, he began hitting balls at a driving range in December and declared himself better than ever. Though he told Craig Sager at the Orlando/Boston game last night that his game just isn’t there yet. No one in the Woods camp will confirm his exact return date, but the official statement is that Tiger is ahead of his rehabilitation schedule after reconstructive knee surgery in June. It is safe to assume that Woods will compete in tournaments prior to the start of the Masters in April. But one thing is for certain, once Tiger returns, he will be ready to win.

Ryder Cup 2008: My old Kentucky home!

This past weekend, the Ryder Cup was not just about golf, it was about a group of Americans coming together as one, riding the emotion generated by the flag-waving crowd at the Valhalla Country Club to defeat the Europeans.

The so-called experts gave this Tiger-less United States squad a puncher’s chance of winning the Ryder Cup. The Europeans were expected to continue its dominance over the U.S. that had extended to three straight defeats, five out of six, and eight out of 11 matches prior to this weekend. But the Americans didn’t need a miracle putt or an amazing comeback like their last victory to capture this crown.

Every questionable roster decision made by U.S. Captain Paul Azinger turned into gold this weekend. Two of Kentucky’s native sons light shined the brightest on Sunday. Kenny Perry, whose lifelong dream was to compete in a Ryder Cup event, delivered a 3-and-2 victory in the first single competition on Sunday to swing the momentum back towards the U.S. direction. And it was Campbellsville, Ky. resident J.B. Holmes’ final two birdies in his single match that set up the Americans for victory.

Other memorable scenes from the weekend include Anthony Kim’s youthful exuberance, which was on display all three days in Louisville. His attitude became infectious throughout the team, and brought out some emotional reaction even from cool, calculating Phil Mickelson on the golf course. And the fans cheering as loud as possible, “BOOOO,” as Bo Weekley did his best Happy Gilmore impersonation after a tee shot, galloping like a horse on his driver down the fairway.

The book is closed on European dominance in Ryder Cup play. This event seems to be energized once again and could retake its place as one of the top events in golf.

10 things you need to know about the PGA Championship

THE WORLD OF ISAAC has you covered for the final rounds of the PGA Championship. They list the 10 things you need to know about the annual men’s golf outing.

Player Most Likely to Show up in a stupid outfit: Ian Poulter

Player’s name you don’t want to pronounce: Louis Oosthuizen

Player Most Likely to Keel Over and Die from overall unhealthiness: John Daly

Most Likely to pull a Van De Velde: Phil Mickelson

Most likely to Blame the Crowd when he hits a bad shot: Colin Montgomerie

Guy everybody is pulling for: Rocco Mediate

Over/Under: Mentioning Tiger’s Injury on Air: 776

Most Notable Name who doesn’t deserve a spot: Paul Azinger

Player most in need of a cheeseburger: Charles Howell III

Player that will take over the Golf World in Tiger’s Absence: Anthony Kim

I’ll take the over 776 on the mention of Tiger’s injury on air.

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