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Anthony Kim says he battled addictive personality, ‘scam artists’ and injuries

<span>Anthony Kim was a three-time winner on the PGA Tour from 2008 to 2010 and competed on US Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams.</span><span>Photograph: Mike Stobe/AP</span>
Anthony Kim was a three-time winner on the PGA Tour from 2008 to 2010 and competed on US Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams.Photograph: Mike Stobe/AP

Anthony Kim, once the sixth-ranked golfer in the world, said he battled “very dark demons”, including addiction and a litany of injuries, during more than a decade away from the sport before returning to LIV Golf last month.

Once touted as one of America’s hottest young stars, Kim disappeared from the game before he turned 30, beset by injuries and a lost game. In an interview with David Feherty that was published on LIV Golf Plus on Tuesday, the 38-year-old Californian revealed details of his long road back after nearly 12 years away.

“Golf is important to me and not important to me at the same time,” Kim said. “I’ve had some very dark moments. I’ve had some very low moments. I’ve felt very alone, even when there’s a million people around. I needed to get my mind straight and figure out what my purpose was on this planet.”

Kim, who said he is participating in a documentary about his life, was a three-time winner on the PGA Tour from 2008 to 2010 and competed on US Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams. But he vanished from the public eye after walking off the course at Quail Hollow and straight to the parking lot when he withdrew after one round of the Wells Fargo Championship in May 2012.

Kim, who said he has an “addictive personality” and knew he “needed help for a long time”, said that his time near the top was marked by hangers-on who were out to take advantage of him.

“I’m not going to lie, I was around some bad people,” Kim said. “People that took advantage of me. Scam artists. And when you’re 24 or 25, even 30 years old, you don’t realize the snakes that are living under your roof.”

Kim told LIV Golf Plus that he underwent surgeries on his hand and shoulder and a spinal fusion procedure after leaving the game. After an achilles tendon injury, the former Oklahoma State star collected at least part of a disability insurance policy that was reportedly worth $10m to $20m.

“I know public perception is that I took this money and ran and decided I was just going to hang out,” Kim said. “That wasn’t the case at all. I had multiple, multiple surgeries in a few years. And my body is still not what it used to be.”

In March, LIV Golf announced Kim was joining the Saudi-funded breakaway golf circuit as a wild card, meaning he will not be affiliated with any of the 13 teams on the tour.

He made his debut at LIV Golf Jeddah at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club, where he hit his first competitive shot in 4,320 days, finishing the event in last place out of the 53 golfers who completed the tournament and 32 strokes behind winner Joaquin Niemann.

“I have an interesting relationship with golf,” Kim said. “I don’t think I ever loved it. What’s very weird to me is I’m falling in love with the game. That’s such a weird spot for me because golf was filled with pressure. Golf was filled with lots of different emotions for me.

“Because my family had to go through a lot to give me this opportunity to play golf. So with that added pressure, I was willing to risk a lot more. That was my nature. I was aggressive on the golf course. I was aggressive off the golf course, and that led to my demise.”

Kim credited his wife, Emily, and their two-year-old daughter, Bella, with helping him turn his life around.

“I’m so blessed to have both of those women in my life,” Kim said. “I wake up with a feeling of gratitude every morning.”