Anthony Kim struggles in return to golf at LIV event in Saudi Arabia

The former star finished his first round back in dead last, but there were still some promising signs.

Anthony Kim had to fight his way around the course on Friday. (Francois Nel/Getty Images)
Anthony Kim had to fight his way around the course Friday. (Francois Nel/Getty Images)

Turns out that when you take more than a decade off from professional golf, re-entry can be a little tricky. Anthony Kim played his first professional round since 2012 on Friday at LIV Golf's Jeddah event in Saudi Arabia, and if the moment was memorable, the score wasn't.

Kim, who left the PGA Tour following injury in 2012, finished his first round at Jeddah with a seven-bogey, one-birdie round of 76, 14 strokes behind leaders Jon Rahm and Adrian Meronk. Joaquin Niemann, Charl Schwartzel and Bryson DeChambeau are one stroke off the lead at -7.

The +6 round left Kim in dead last among the 54 competitors on the day, two strokes behind Bubba Watson. While most LIV players are members of four-man teams, Kim is playing this season as a solo "wild card," with the possibility of joining a team somewhere down the line.

With his white shirt untucked and hair tied back in a short ponytail, Kim spent most of the day knocking the rust off a game that's been in the shed since Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas were in high school. His return to the game was accompanied with plenty of LIV Golf hype, but virtually no commentary from Kim himself, who is — for now — letting his game speak for him.

At the moment, the game isn't saying anything pretty. The lowlight: an ugly shank on his sixth hole of the day.

On the plus side, Kim bounced back on the very next hole with his lone birdie of the day, a long putt that allowed Kim to flash a little of the old strut and style:

"I would be lying to say that I didn't have certain expectations," Kim said after the round. "At least even if I played bad, I thought I would shoot around par. It was unfortunate that I made so many unforced errors from the middle of the fairway. That's generally my strength, is my iron game. To make so many unforced errors is really disappointing."

Because LIV Golf tournaments are no-cut events, Kim is guaranteed a check no matter where he finishes. He'll be a wild card for the rest of the LIV season, which continues next week in Hong Kong and returns to the United States in early April.

"Right now I'm just focused on trying to hit good shots as opposed to comparing my game to other people," Kim said. "I think that will come over the next few tournaments. But right now, I'm just trying to take it one shot at a time, as cliche as that is."

Kim was one of the most electrifying players in golf for a few years in the late aughts. He won three PGA Tour events and still holds the record for most birdies in a single round of the Masters. Kim has two more rounds at Jeddah this weekend; it will be fascinating to see how his game improves with actual competition.