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Beware of the injured player

British Open 2023: Dealing with crutches and a cast, Tom Kim notches his best finish in a major

July 23, 2023

Tom Kim plays his third shot on the 18th hole in the final round.

Richard Heathcote/R&A

It doesn’t rank up there with Tiger Woods winning the U.S. Open on a broken leg, but what Tom Kim endured this week on his way to a personal-best finish in a major was a evidence of grit and the power of painkillers and adrenaline.

After a freak accident at his rental home, where Kim on Thursday evening stepped onto a muddy spot and twisted his ankle into a Grade 1 sprain, he wore a removable cast away from the course and arrived at Royal Liverpool on crutches.

The 20-year-old said he considered withdrawing before the second and third rounds, but Kim toughed it out. After an opening 74 in good health, he shot back-to-back 68s, and then closed in the terrible weather, with treacherous slippery grounds, on Sunday with a 67 to finish in the runner-up group of four at seven under that was six shots behind champion Brian Harman.

“It actually lasted better today,” Kim said. “I took off my cast and kind of saw and it actually got a lot better, which was really nice to see. My team and my medical team have done a great job of protecting it and making sure it’s not moving as much as possible.

“Obviously, coming down the stretch of a major when you’re playing well, the adrenaline kind of hits and makes sure you’re kind of in it. It’s kind of nice to almost forget about it a little bit, because when you're in the moment you don't really think about it. I think today was probably the best it's been out of the three days, so kind of relieved.”

That doesn’t mean Kim wasn’t think about all the mud he had to traverse in a day of constant rain.

“You could slip really easily. The last thing I need right now is another twist or another slip.”

The performance extends a run of recent strong results of the second-year tour player. Kim tied for eight in the U.S. Open last month and was T-6 in the Scottish Open. He appears to be back on track after hitting a spring and summer lull following a strong season opening in which he won in Las Vegas in October and had two other top-10s before the calendar turned to February.

“It's very, very satisfying,” Kim said of the result at Hoylake. “It's been tough at times this year, but I can't say it's really tough, because for me, I feel like our team has a lot of expectations and we're trying to play the best that I can.

“Obviously having the season last year, your expectations go more up and you kind of feel like you're supposed to play like that all the time. Seeing golf courses that I haven't been to, hitting a huge learning curve, it's been kind of frustrating a little bit.

But it's been a time where I put things a lot in perspective and try to keep myself -- this is just a learning curve, this is my first full year out. These guys have been out here for five- to 10-plus years.

I really have to kind of put it into perspective and keep working hard to keep playing better. I put a lot of work in this year trying to get back to that feeling of kind of contending in big events and it's kind of nice to see the fruits coming to life.”