- The Washington Times - Monday, July 6, 2009

For a moment Sunday, it looked as if Anthony Kim would deny his boyhood idol and defend his AT&T National title at Congressional Country Club. He had talked about it publicly, dreamt about it when he was a kid, practiced for it for years.

After a kick-in birdie at No. 1, the 24-year-old had a one-shot cushion on Tiger Woods, the tournament host and Kim’s hero growing up. But from there, everything went wrong - and left - for Kim.

His tee shot at the fourth: left. His first shot on the fifth: way left. His drive at the sixth: 30 yards left. His opener at the ninth: more left, all the way into the first fairway.

He managed to get through that stretch at only 1 over, but by that point Woods had a two-shot lead. Kim missed his chance to separate himself on the front nine and ended up finishing third behind Woods and Hunter Mahan.

“I started to figure [my swing] out, but it still didn’t feel comfortable,” Kim said. “I definitely found a way to recover a little bit, but it still wasn’t really comfortable. I think that was the reason for a couple off-line shots.”

On the back nine, Kim’s problem wasn’t so much his swing as it was his putter. He made a habit of hitting fairways and greens but couldn’t put himself in good enough position to make the birdies he needed to rally.

On the par-5 16th, the easiest hole all week, Kim sat at 10 under with a 5-footer left for birdie. Woods had just made a 20-foot putt to move to 13 under, and Kim needed to make his birdie try for a chance at catching Woods on Nos. 17 and 18. But he missed it, cementing his fate.

“Tiger obviously wins for a reason,” Kim said. “He makes the putts when he needs to. Unfortunately they didn’t drop for me today.”

And that’s the thing about the Dallas native: Nearly everyone, Woods included, can agree that the future is still bright for Kim, who has won twice on Tour thus far and was a big part of the U.S. Ryder Cup team’s success last year.

Since October, Kim has been hampered by a series of injuries - everything from bursitis in his left shoulder to a broken jaw to a dislocated thumb. Only now is he starting to feel healthy.

Woods took note of his play all week at Congressional, which included a course-record 62, and had a quick word with Kim after the round.

“I just said that I enjoyed it and there will be many more to come,” said Woods, who captured his 68th tournament Sunday. “Just keep working hard, and we’ll do this for many more years.”

Eventually Kim may even get the best of his idol, but Sunday - because of a crooked driver and an inconsistent putter - wasn’t that day.

“I feel like I’m one of the top players in the world; I just need to go out there and take care of those careless mistakes,” Kim said. “I’ll learn a lot from this event, and I’m taking a lot of positives away.”

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