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Kim puts on a show on Maui


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POSTED: Saturday, January 10, 2009

KAPALUA, Maui » After Anthony Kim exited the scorer's tent and did a brief stint for the Golf Channel, he was greeted by a mob of youngsters straining against the ropes to get an autograph.

Wearing his trademark belt buckle, which must weigh 3 pounds, and a diamond-studded wristwatch to match, Kim did his best to answer the call of everyone who wanted just a moment of his time.

Such is the life for the 23-year-old who shot up the Mercedes-Benz Championship leaderboard yesterday with a 5-under 68 to move into a tie for fourth, just four shots back of second-day leader Geoff Ogilvy at 7-under 139.

The Oklahoma Sooner, who shook off his team's loss in the national championship game to Florida on Thursday night, said a tip from Golf Channel analyst Nick Faldo helped his putting stroke as he went from a tie for 11th after the first round into contention entering the weekend.

In his first appearance in this elite winners-only field, Kim is coming off a two-win campaign and a Ryder Cup performance for the ages. Once known more for his brashness and cocky attitude, Kim has matured this past year, prompted by his mother, who told him she wanted young fans to look up to him as they did Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh.

"She told me I had a chance to make a difference in a young fan's life and I took that to heart," Kim said.

Kim carded eight birdies and three bogeys in only his second competitive round at the expansive Plantation Course. He is part of a six-way tie for fourth that includes such golfing greats as Davis Love III and Kenny Perry. If he limits his bogeys over the next couple of days, it's possible he could secure his third tour win and a brand new Mercedes that goes to tomorrow's winner.

"I feel like I have come a long way with my game and my attitude," Kim said.

"This week, I have been taking it very slowly. I'm trying to enjoy being out here. I have not played golf in two weeks and actually, (Monday) was my first day back. Since Tiger's tournament, I've just taken a break and enjoyed Christmas and New Year's with my family and friends. I'm just excited to be out here playing golf."

Kim has been playing particularly well, starting with his win at the AT&T National last summer. He continued to play well into September, including a 5-and-4 win over Sergio Garcia on the final day of the Ryder Cup. That night, he partied like it was 1999, something not lost on Perry, his American teammate.

"He's just 24/7," Perry said. "That guy, he's wide open all the time. That party at the Ryder Cup was incredible. That boy put on a show that night."

Kim wants to put on a show every time he climbs inside the ropes. One of several young stars on the PGA Tour, Kim managed a career-high eight top-10 finishes, including six in the top three. His first third was at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic played near his high school in La Quinta, Calif. He became the youngest winner on tour since Sergio Garcia captured the Mercedes in 2002.

Before teeing it up on Thursday, Kim played the role of tourist like any young adult. He went snorkeling and whale watching, and oh, by the way, he enjoys the unique Plantation Course.

"I love this kind of golf," Kim said. "This is fun for me. I think this type of course and this type of setup will help me get more on an even playing field, as weird as that sounds. I'm getting used to the greens and I think I found my putting stroke, so hopefully I can make some putts at the end of the week."