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Shane Bacon

Anthony Kim withdraws from Players, and questions arise

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On Tuesday, everyone's favorite 24-year-old golfer had to pull out of the Players Championship because of a nagging thumb injury that just won't go away. Anthony Kim, who is playing arguably the best golf of his young career, said in a statement that while he wanted to be in the field this week, he just couldn't do it.

While the initial points are obvious (no chance at winning the Players, having to withdraw after three straight top-10s and four of his last five), the questions are bigger than that. Could this injury keep Kim out of the next two majors?

Here are the facts. AK's thumb injury began in 2009, but he has played through it because like any athlete he doesn't want to get surgery and miss significant time from the game. The initial reports are that reattaching the ligament between his left index finger and left thumb would keep Kim out of competitive golf for two to three months. If that was the case, he would miss the U.S. Open and British Open, a huge hit to a guy that nearly stole the Masters from Phil Mickelson.

The main question here is if Kim has to have surgery. While he isn't playing this week because the thumb is bothering him, he has complained about it in the past but played through it and played well.

If there is any chance to avoid surgery until after the PGA Championship, that would be ideal, even if it meant he'd have to miss the Ryder Cup.

But for now, it just means that one of the hottest golfers currently playing the game will be questionable for the next few tournaments. Missing out on a random tournament doesn't mean a lot, but to have a guy pull out of the "fifth major" after contending the last three times he's been out means this thumb injury is bigger than we thought.

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