By DOUG FERGUSON
AP Golf Writer
FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (AP) -- Anthony Kim played a full practice round at Bethpage Black last week, and feels as though he knows where to go. He also caddied at the U.S. Open course last week, and knows where not to go.
Kim took part in the "Golf Digest Challenge," a made-for-TV event in which four amateurs try to break 100 on a U.S. Open course. He caddied for singer Justin Timberlake, who shot an 88.
"Got to see some of the course that I probably don't want to see in the tournament," Kim said.
Or maybe he will.
Kim has been an enigma this season after a breakthrough year in 2008 when he won at Quail Hollow and Congressional, and gave the Americans a spark by whipping Sergio Garcia in the leadoff singles match at the Ryder Cup.
He opened the year with a runner-up finish at Kapalua. He hasn't had a top 10 since then.
Kim has dealt with a series of odd injuries, one to his jaw while horseback riding in New Zealand. But there are concerns that he is spending more time having fun off the course than putting in work on his game to be among the best players.
He has fallen to No. 15 in the world, and his best result since Kapalua was a tie for 20th in the Masters.
"To be honest, it's not far off," he said. "I said that early last year before I went off and won a couple of tournaments. I just haven't been as patient as I need to be on the golf course, and if there's anywhere that's going to test it, it's going to be at Bethpage."
As for his days on the bag?
"I wasn't a very good caddie," he said. "I did everything I could, though. I probably should just stick to playing golf."
TIGER & KOBE: Tiger Woods grew up watching the Los Angeles Lakers during the "Showtime" era and remains a big fan, even though he lives in Orlando, Fla., and has front-row seats for the Magic games.
But he had additional interest this year, having spent more time with All-Star guard Kobe Bryant. He said he took Bryant out to dinner when the Lakers were in Orlando, although he didn't say which day.
"His work ethic is phenomenal," Woods said. "Look at him on the court, how he guides his team throughout the game. That's steady. That's knowing the offenses, knowing defenses you're going against, knowing basically all the chess pieces. That takes hours upon hours upon hours of study. His preparation is second to none. And that's certainly something anyone can appreciate."
What was the occasion for taking Bryant to dinner?
"We were hungry," he said.
WHERE'S LEFTY: Phil Mickelson celebrated his 39th birthday on Tuesday, but not on Bethpage Black.
Mickelson left the St. Jude Classic for his home in San Diego to be with wife Amy, who is battling breast cancer. He was to fly to New York later Tuesday, hold a press conference Wednesday morning and then play his lone practice round of the week.
Even so, the gallery was surprised to see his familiar sidekick -- caddie Jim "Bones" Mackay -- walking up the 13th fairway as he mapped out the course as part of his U.S. Open preparations.
Mackay spoke for about five minutes with Woods in front of the green, and with Woods' caddie, Steve Williams. He wound up walking the last five holes with Woods' group as he measured possible hole locations.
Along the way, fans continued to say to him, "Where's Phil?' and "Is Phil playing today?" Mackay told them that Lefty would be on the course Wednesday. He couldn't help but notice the hand-painted shirt of one young fan.
"Happy Birthday Phil. No. 39."
OGILVY AND THE EMPIRE STATE: Geoff Ogilvy won the U.S. Open the last time it was held in New York, and while Bethpage Black is more than an hour away from Winged Foot, he feels right at home.
Ogilvy was signing autographs Tuesday when he noticed several fans holding out ticket stubs from 2006 at Winged Foot. Some of them brought flags from the course in Westchester County. He even met 10 people who were inside the ropes as volunteers during the final round, when he took advantage of a double bogey by Phil Mickelson on the final hole for a one-shot victory.
"I keep meeting people who were there at the time, and 'I saw you there earlier in the week' and 'You signed by boy's hat,' and hundreds of them," Ogilvy said. "I've met a lot of people who were inside the ropes with me. Maybe there's some exaggeration going on, but it's really, really cool. A lot of people I met have Winged Foot stories that makes the nostalgia better."
Ogilvy did not play Bethpage Black in 2002. He missed the cut at Shinnecock Hills in 2004.
WARNING: The Black Course at Bethpage State Park is famous for a sign behind the first tee, which remains posted during the U.S. Open. It says, "Warning. The Black Course is an extremely difficult course which we recommend only for highly skilled golfers."
Henrik Stenson found that unusual.
"I haven't really played much courses with warning signs," the Swede said. "It's more for the ski slopes, isn't it?"
But the more he thought about it, and having played a practice round, he wasn't sure.
"Might be a little bit seriousness in there, as well," he said.
DIVOTS: Sergio Garcia has agreed to fill in for Trevor Immelman next week in the World Skins Game in Canada. Immelman had to withdraw from the U.S. Open with a left elbow injury. Garcia will compete against Mike Weir, Geoff Ogilvy, Fred Couples and Ian Poulter. ... Jack Nicklaus will be in the Big Apple on Wednesday to turn on the lights to the Empire State Building tower. The lights will be red, white and blue to celebrate the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, the 18th time the U.S. Open has been held in New York.