[PHOTO: Eurasia Sport Images]

It took six rounds back from a 12-year competitive hiatus, but Anthony Kim finally showed some glimpses of what made him a popular, young American star early in his career.

Now 38, Kim understandably had a rough go of it last week in his first event back at LIV Golf’s event in Saudi Arabia, shooting a 16-over-par total for three days to finish last in the pack.

He opened with a six-over 76 on Friday this week in LIV’s Hong Kong stop at Hong Kong Golf Club and bettered only Phil Mickelson, who shot an eye-opening 80. A second-round 72 was much better, but still included four bogeys and a double-bogey.

Finally on Sunday, Kim showed signs of life by recording seven birdies, against two bogeys, to shoot a final-round 65. He ended the week at a promising three-over-par total. He finished in 50th place and beat Jason Kokrak, Hudson Swafford, Mickelson and Kieran Vincent, with Abraham Ancer winning the title in a playoff.

“I knew something good was coming,” Kim said. “It’s hard to stay patient when you feel like it’s right there, and I’m really happy that it hasn’t taken me one more round to get here.

“I’m just happy about the progress I’m making and the confidence I’m building going into the next few weeks.”

Kim’s seven birdies in the third round were two more than he made in his first two rounds combined in Hong Kong. He had made only nine birdies in total in his previous five rounds before Sunday.

He started on the 15th hole in the shotgun-start format and birdied his second and fourth holes of the round, then played his next 10 holes in even-par with two birdies and two bogeys. Three consecutive birdies at holes 11, 12 and 13 got him to five-under-par for the day before closing with a par on his last hole, the par-4 14th.

“I’m very proud,” Kim said. “Coming from where I came from over the past 10, 12 years, I’m just very grateful for this opportunity. Every step I walk, I feel blessed. So matter what I shoot, I feel like I’ve won. I never thought those words would come out of my mouth, but I’m trying to play this game with a lot of gratitude and live my life the same way.”

LIV Golf’s next event isn’t until April 5 in Miami, but Kim is still going to play next week, his third consecutive. He is scheduled to make a start at this week’s Asian Tour’s International Series event in Macau.