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You want to see birdies? Scope out Anthony Kim

The intention here was to advise you that if it's birdies you want to see at the Quail Hollow Championship this week and you're not willing to thunder around among the throngs chasing the matinee idols, you should find Anthony Kim.

Kim makes more birdies than anybody on the PGA Tour except for Tiger Woods, plus he wears some great belt buckles if you favor jeweled hubcaps.

But when the subject (the birdies, not the hubcaps) was brought up to the 25-year old who once was dubbed by Mark O'Meara as the best young player he had seen since Tiger, Kim sorta, kinda said that he's getting over his gunslinging days. Maybe.

Asked if he was fearless, he said, "No, I don't think anyone is fearless. I don't mind risking a double (bogey) or a bogey to make a birdie. I guess there's a fine line between fearless and reckless and I'm starting to go more toward the safer side, I guess, starting to fire at a couple less flags."

Come on, Anthony. The man who birdied 11 holes during a single round at the Masters last year, en route to a 65, is maybe going to back off the throttle? The storm that came up on the final nine of the Masters this year and rained three birdies and an eagle in a row to sweep into contention is pondering a more down-to-earth approach?

Well.

"I'm still going at a couple flags I probably shouldn't have... But I think that's the attitude that has let me make so many birdies," he said.

But then...

"I know Tiger makes a lot of 20-footers, maybe a couple more than I do per week, so I need to obviously make a couple more putts from some distance and be willing to have those putts instead of trying to stuff everything in there within 5 feet," he said.

So, draw your own conclusions. Chase Tiger and Phil if you want, but while Kim is hem-hawing about his aggressiveness, he also is saying he has his driver back under control and feels good about his game and he loves this course.

Maybe he'll repeat his 2008 win here when he finished five ahead of the field. Or maybe not. He's unpredictable, as are most of them. He can shoot you a 74. He even shot a 78 this year. But he has played 24 rounds on the PGA Tour this year and shot in the 60s 16 times, throwing in a 64, a couple of 65s, a 66 and a pair of 67s.

And that's playing with a thumb injury that has him gulping Advil and contemplating surgery. It's bothered him for more than a year but we've heard little about it.

"If there's anything my parents taught me," he said, "it's don't make excuses. If you hit a bad shot and you make a bogey, it's not the wind, it's not the ball, it's not the club, it's you."

Kim played a tournament in Korea last week and arrived here Monday afternoon after an 18-hour journey.

"There was no way I was missing this tournament," he said. "This is one of my favorite tournaments, whether I won in '08 or not... Everything about this place is very special to me, and obviously winning here in '08, my first win on tour, I dreamed about that my whole life and to come back here is very special to me. I'll always be back here."

Good. Great. And knock down all the flags you want to. We'll buy more.

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