Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

NOTEBOOK; Kim Handles Bad Round with Maturity

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

NOTEBOOK; Kim Handles Bad Round with Maturity

Article excerpt

Byline: GARRY SMITS

Anthony Kim was asked if he would have responded differently to a round of 79 last year, as opposed to Saturday at The Players Championship.

"For one thing, I wouldn't be standing here," said the 22-year-old Kim, referring to his consent to a post-round interview. "I think maybe my bag would be in the water. But I shot a 79, and that's what I have to accept."

Kim, a second-year PGA Tour player who won the Wachovia Championship last week, went bogey, double-bogey on his first two holes at the TPC Sawgrass Players Stadium Course, appeared to right the ship when he birdied three of four later in his round, but then bogeyed four in a row from Nos. 11 to 14, and finished 6-6 at Nos. 17 and 18, hitting balls into the water on each hole.

Kim plummeted from fifth place at the start of the day to a tie for 34th at 3-over-par 219. However, his increasing maturity was on display, with few displays of disgust or anger.

"I stayed focused and tried to hit good shots," he said. "We have another day."

BEST ROUND OF THE DAY

Greg Kraft, who qualified for The Players by winning his first Tour event in 16 seasons earlier this spring, shot out to one of the best starts by players in the early morning rounds.

Kraft, who was in the third group, played his first six holes in 1 over, then birdied three in a row to cap his front nine. He then made four birdies and two bogeys on the back on his way to a round of 68. That score held up as the best of the day.

Kraft birdied six of nine holes during one stretch. He was 5 under for the day until he hit his tee shot into the water at No. 17, but he made a 6-foot putt to save bogey.

"I putted very well today," said Kraft, who won the Puerto Rico Classic in March. "I hit it close a bunch of times, but I made a lot of putts. For me to shoot anything under par, on this course, on a Saturday, is great."

Kraft began his hot streak with birdie putts of 14 feet at No. 7, 22 feet at No. 8 and nearly 11 feet at No. 9. His four birdies on the back nine came on putts between 6 feet and 14 feet.

Between his birdie at No. 7 and his bogey at No. 17 -- a stretch of 11 holes -- Kraft had only two pars.

FREDDIE FINDS A WAY

For three days in a row, two-time Players champion Fred Couples has hit tee shots right on the par-4 18th hole.

In all three cases, he carved miracle shots out of the rough, over and through trees to play the tournament's difficult closing hole at 2 under.

On Saturday, Couples drove his ball near the cart path, then hit a long iron through an opening in the trees. He put a purposeful slice on the ball, and it wound up short of the green and in the mounds. But Couples chipped in for birdie, to the delight of the crowd that cheered with delight -- despite the fact that the birdie gave him a 77 for the round and a 54-hole total of 3-over 219. …

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