THIS KIM IS ANYTHING BUT SMALL!
‘Lil Kim has hit it big time! No, I am no talking about the gangster rapping, multi-Grammy award winning female version, Kimberly Denise Jones, aka ‘Lil Kim. I am talking about the big hitting, birdie banging, 2008 multiple PGA tour winning, Anthony Ha-Jin Kim, aka ‘Lil Kim.
In just his second full year on the PGA Tour, the brash, blinging, 23 year old, native of Los Angeles and three-time All-American at University of Oklahoma has taken the tour by storm.
If you don't know Anthony Kim, maybe you should.
Since Kim has joined the PGA Tour, he has made 32 of 41 cuts, had two wins, eight top ten finishes and made over $5 million dollars. He is currently ranked fifth on the money list and is in sixth place in the Fed-Ex Cup race.
Last month in Charlotte, North Carolina he won his first professional tournament at the Wachovia Championship, and this past weekend he defeated Fredrik Jacobsen and Robert Allenby by two shots to win the AT&T National hosted by Tiger Woods at the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland.
In the past decade, only Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia and Adam Scott have won twice in a single year before their 25th birthdays.
I got a chance to sit down with the fearless, future star of the PGA and find out what's the big deal about Anthony "'Lil" Kim.
Me: How does it feel to be in the same company as Tiger Woods?
Kim: "It feels like I have arrived."
Me: From the looks of your Texas sized cowboy diamond studded, A.K. initial belt buckle, no one could miss you!
Kim: "It's an Oklahoma sized buckle."
Me: Right, you were a three-time All-American at the University of Oklahoma. But you're from Los Angeles, why did you pick Oklahoma?
Kim: "I knew the Oklahoma golf team was superb, so it was in my top five choices, but when I attended the Oklahoma vs. Texas football game, I was hooked."
Me: You mean you were destined, Sooner or later...
Kim: "Hey, you're a funny guy."
Me: Thanks. Unlike many of the touring pros who grew up around golf, whether it was at a country club or the local municipal course, many had the benefits of instruction and coaches; you on the other hand, grew up the son of Korean immigrants on the mean streets of LA. What possessed you to play golf?
Kim: "Tiger Woods. When I was 10 years old, I idolized Tiger. He was my role model--- Being an Asian American, I could identify with him. I watched everything he did and every move he made. I watched his video ‘Tiger's Triple' so much that my mother had to buy me a second one, because I wore the first one out!"
Me: That's the video that tells the story of his three straight U.S. Junior and three consecutive U. S. Amateur titles.
Me: Speaking of Tiger, you received a phone call from Tiger Woods after your final round on Sunday at the AT&T National; can you tell me about it?
Kim: "I just finished posting my score and was waiting for Tommy Armour III and Tom Pernice, Jr. to finish their rounds before the winning presentation. So, after I came out of the scorers' tent, I started to sign some autographs, then an official handed me a cell phone. Kiddingly, I asked him if it was the President of the United States? He said, ‘Even better, it's Tiger Woods!'
"He congratulated me and told me to keep working hard. That the sky is the limit and there's no reason to stop now. That means the world to me. I get chills down by back when I think about it.
"He's the Michael Jordan of golf, and to come out ten years after him and have this opportunity to play in his golf tournament, and be on the PGA Tour and live my dream is a wonderful feeling.
"I told him that he now has a playing partner on Sunday!"
Me: Well, after your extraordinary effort at the AT&T National, you not only resemble Tiger, your game does also!
Me: So, how did you get started in golf?
Kim: "I asked my dad to take me the driving range and that's how it began."
Me: I understand that after that session, your father was so impressed, that he signed you up for lessons?
Kim: "I was excited; I wanted to play golf so bad. After that first session at the range, I was hooked! I think there were about 50 kids who saw Tiger and decided to take lessons too. But, the boys class from ages 10-12 was full, so the only class that was available was with the girls."
Me: So, you got stuck with the girls? Betcha you caught some flack from your friends?
Kim: "Well, it wasn't too bad; many of the girls in the class were Korean girls from my school and neighborhood, so I knew a lot of them."
Me: I did a little research and found out that you were the youngest and smallest boy in a group of Korean girls that are now playing on the LPGA tour. That there were five girls named Kim, and you made the sixth--- Birdie Kim, Christina Kim, Mi Hyun Kim, In Kyung Kim, Young Kim and you--- Lil Kim. I am surprised that you didn't ask them to call you "Eagle Kim."
Kim: "Really, the reason I was called ‘Lil Kim was after the rapper Kimberly Denise Jones, who hit it big time when she came out with Biggie Smalls and his posse. It may sound unusual to you, but since we were in the ‘hood, they played rap music in the clubhouse and when the song "No Time" by Lil Kim and Puff Daddy came on the radio, I would rap right along with them. Our instructor called me and the girls, "'Lil Kim and his Junior M.A.F.I.A."
Me: You and the girls were the "gangsters of rap."
Kim: "All those girls can really "rap" the ball; they're great! At the end of the class, instead of giving me a golf award, the instructor gave me ‘Best Rap Performance.'"
Me: For more ways than one! I also understand that their were a few Parks in you class as well?
Kim: "Yeah, there were several--- Angela Park, Gloria Park, Grace Park, and Inbee Park.
Me: What about "Hit the ball out of the" Park?
Kim: "Oh, that was Grace's nickname; she could really kill it."
Me: So there were many comparisons to Kimberly "'Lil Kim" Jones. She is quite provocative, daring and attention grabbing, especially in her Lady Marmalade video. Is that where you get your personality from? Your clothes, your gestures and your bold blinging belt buckles?
Kim: "When she came out with her hit single, Magic Stick, I decided I needed a magic stick too, so I had my sand wedge shaft covered in rhinestones."
Me: Sounds magical!
Kim: "It is."
Me: I can see some other comparisons as well. She raps a big game and you play a big game.
Fred Funk said, "You're fearless and you have tremendous length for a little guy, and that you have a cocky, arrogant attitude that you need to have when you're in your position, but you have the game to back it up."
Kim: "Fred said that about me? I'm flattered!"
Me: ‘Lil Kim is in Biggies gang, you are in Nike's gang, how is that working out?
Kim: "More like Tiger's gang! I love it--- Tiger, K.J. Choi, Stewart Cink, Grace Park and Micelle Wie... It's great!"
Me: Any comparisons about her spending time in jail?
Kim: "Oh No! She was stuck in jail--- I feel bad for her, but with my magic stick, I'll never be stuck in jail!"
Me: In several weeks, you have a shot at a major title at Royal Birkdale, how exciting is that?
Kim: "I'll make sure I bring my magic stick."
Me: Well, best of luck!
Copyright 2008 Steve Kay