PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Anthony Kim was just glad to leave TPC Sawgrass with all his clubs.
Kim, who started the day two strokes behind leader Kenny Perry, shot a 7-over 79 in the third round Saturday and fell well out of contention at The Players Championship.
It was the kind of round that would have frustrated Kim in the past. But the 22-year-old Kim has learned to control his emotions — one reason he has four top-20 finishes this year, including a victory last week at the Wachovia Championship.
How would Kim have reacted to this kind of score in his two previous years on the PGA Tour?
“That bag may be in the water,” said Kim, tied for 34th heading into the final round. “I’m just glad I have all my clubs and I’m standing here. You know, I don’t know if I would have been able to eat dinner last year. I feel fine. It’s not the end of the world.”
No, but shooting 8 over in the final eight holes ended any legitimate shot he had at winning consecutive events.
Kim was in the second-to-last group Saturday, and starting with consecutive bogeys gave him a pretty good indication he was going to struggle in wind gusting around 25 mph on the menacing Stadium Course.
He kept grinding through it and even managed to get to 5 under after a birdie at the par-4 10th. But little else went right the rest of the round.
He he bogeyed the next four holes, hitting three approach shots over greens and unable to get up and down for pars. He stopped the bleeding with a par, then a birdie at the par-5 16th. But everything unraveled during the two closing holes, and he had a triple-double finish.
“It was very disappointing,” said Kim, who shot 78-83 at The Players last year and missed the cut. “At least I can go to sleep tonight and say I didn’t give up on one shot. I tried my hardest on every shot, and that’s more than I could have said for last year’s rounds.
“I hit some quality shots that didn’t hold the green and ended up going 2 yards over the green and made a couple of bogeys from there. But I grinded it out. Forty-three is pretty embarrassing, but that’s all I had today.”
Kim’s tee shot at the famed 17th got caught up in a gust of wind, landed just on the fringe and bounced back into the murky water.
His third shot from the drop area settled on the green’s upper tier, then he blew his first putt 12 feet past the hole and ended up with a three-putt 6.
Just when Kim didn’t think it could get any worse, he pulled his tee shot on 18 into the water and carded a double bogey.
“I’ve learned a lot from today, especially from the string of bogeys I made,” Kim said. “I’m making great swings. I know if I tone it back a little bit, I’ll be fine.”
TOUGH FINISH: The par-4 18th has been called one of the toughest finishing holes on tour. It looked every bit the part Saturday.
The 462-yard hole with water running along the entire left side yielded just one birdie in the third round. And that came when Fred Couples chipped in from 41 feet.
“The thing is almost a par 5, even though it’s short,” defending champion Phil Mickelson said. “It’s more difficult than 16, and 16 is an actual par 5.”
No one hit got an approach inside 12 feet, and the hole’s scoring average jumped to 4.622 Saturday — just shy of the 4.649 average on No. 16.
The final hole had 41 pars, 19 bogeys, 11 double bogeys and two triples. Still, it wasn’t the toughest hole Saturday. That distinction went to the 481-yard, par-4 14th. Leader Kenny Perry was the only one to birdie that hole after knocking his approach shot to 8 feet.
DIVOTS: Chris DiMarco (78), Nick O’Hern (75) and Heath Slocum (78) were the only players without a birdie in the third round. … Kim was the only player to go four consecutive holes without making par or better. … J.B. Holmes and Jeff Quinney each birdied No. 17, the only group to do that Saturday. … Kenny Perry played the first 45 holes without a three-putt, ending his streak with one on No. 10. … Charlie Wi shot 3 under to get to even par for the tournament and would be in much better shape without six three-putts in the first two rounds.