Phil Mickelson Hits a New High in LIV Golf While Anthony Kim Finishes Dead Last

Phil Mickelson LIV Golf Jeddah

Getty Phil Mickelson during Round 3 of the 2024 LIV Golf Invitatiional-Jeddah.

While there were several significant storylines heading into the LIV Golf Jeddah event in Saudi Arabia, none were bigger than Anthony Kim, who made his highly anticipated return to professional golf after a 12-year absence.

But the three-time PGA Tour winner’s return was anything but triumphant as Kim finished in last place, a full 33 shots back of winner Joaquin Niemann, who took his second victory in three starts on the Saudi-backed series this season and has already racked up more than $8 million in prize money.

And that doesn’t include Niemann’s four top-five finishes in four starts between the DP World Tour and the Asian Tour, including his win at the Australian Open, which helped him earn an invitation to The Masters.

But what somewhat got lost between the negative aspects of Kim’s return and Niemann’s ongoing dominance to start the 2024 season was the play of Phil Mickelson, whose performance in Jeddah marked his best individual finish in LIV Golf since defecting from the PGA Tour two years ago.

Phil Mickelson Notched His Highest Finish in LIV Golf in Jeddah

It’s no secret that Phil Mickelson has struggled for the most part since joining LIV Golf. In 20 starts over his first two seasons, he recorded just a pair of top-10s, tying for eighth in Chicago in 2022 and tying for ninth in Bedminster this past August.

The 2024 campaign didn’t start much better as the six-time major champion posted his worst-ever finish in the Saudi-backed series in the season opener at Mayakoba, both on the leaderboard (T-51) and in relation to par (+11). 

He fared a bit better the following week in Las Vegas but still didn’t play great, shooting 2-under to tie for 30th, 10 shots back of winner Dustin Johnson

But Mickelson looked much more comfortable in Jeddah and got off to a hot start to kick off the tourney on March 1, making seven birdies against one double-bogey to shoot a 5-under round of 70. Lefty had more of an up-and-down day in Round 2 but still finished in the red, making five birdies against three bogeys for a 2-under 68. 

And while Mickelson couldn’t make a run at Niemann during March 3’s final round, he fired a bogey-free 67 to finish at 10-under for the week, putting him in a tie for sixth. This is just the second time the 53-year-old has hit double digits under par, the other being his 12-under finish in Adelaide last April. 

So, there are plenty of positives for Mickelson heading into Hong Kong. LIV Golf then takes a couple of weeks off before Miami, which takes place the weekend before The Masters, where Phil tied for second a season ago.

Anthony Kim Finished Dead Last in His Return to Pro Golf

Given Anthony Kim hadn’t played a professional golf tournament since suffering an Achilles injury in 2012, it was difficult to know what to expect from the 38-year-old in his return. 

But if his first three rounds in LIV Golf are any indication of how the rest of his season will go, he’s going to have a rough go of it. 

Playing as a wild card, meaning he’s not a member of any of the 13 teams, Kim struggled from the get-go, making seven bogeys against just one birdie in his opening round for a 6-over 76, a score he duplicated in Round 2 with three bogeys, two doubles, and a birdie. 

Kim fared a touch better in Round 3 with a pair of birdies but still made six bogeys en route to a 4-over 74, ultimately finishing at 16-over for the week, 33 shots behind Niemann and 11 shots worse than Hudson Swafford, who finished in the penultimate position at 5-over. 

Despite the disappointing finish, Kim attempted to take some positives from his return: 

“Obviously, it was a rough week. I’m excited to be playing professional golf again. I feel very blessed that I have this opportunity,” Kim said of his debut. “I’ve got a lot to work on, but I had a lot of good things go my way this week. So, I’m looking forward to building on that and being in contention at some point this year.

“I’m definitely hitting the ball well. I’m doing a lot of things well. I know the scores don’t reflect that. It’s disappointing to score that way. But at the same time, I know I have a lot to build on, and I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing.”

Kim is expected to be in the field in Hong Kong. 

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