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Player Profile

Sungjae Im: the season so far

by Dave Tindall
Updated On: April 23, 2020, 5:40 pm ET

Age: 22

 

World ranking (current/end of year)

Current: 23rd
2019: 34th
2018: 98th
2017: 149th
2016: 522nd

 

Current 2020 Stats

FedEx Cup Rank: 1st
Events: 14
Wins: 1
Top 10: 5
Top 25: 8
Made Cut: 13
Money: $3,862,168

 

Strokes Gained

Off-The-Tee: 23rd (2019: 33rd, 2018: -, 2017: -)
Approach: 28th (2019: 94th, 2018: -, 2017: -)
Around The Green: 132nd (2019: 23rd, 2018: -, 2017: -)
Putting: 36th (2019: 39th, 2018: -, 2017: -)
Tee-To-Green: 22nd (2019: 33rd, 2018: -, 2017: -)
Total: 12th (2019: 17th, 2018: -, 2017: -)

 

Analysis

Im is quickly becoming part of the furniture on the PGA TOUR even though this is just his second full season. His world ranking rise is a sharp one (he was outside the top 500 going into 2017) but now sits in the top 25. Voted Rookie of the Year in 2018/2019, perhaps most impressive is his Strokes Gained: Total ranking - 17th last season and 12th this time. Comparing the two campaigns, the Korean has bumped up his Approach ranking although gone back in Around The-Green. Otherwise, he's still top-notch off the tee and one of the better putters on tour. And, of course, he just keeps on keepin' on. Im played 35 times last season and had already teed it up 14 times in 2019/2020 before the enforced break. Gamers are getting plenty of bang for their buck and, of course, there's quality to go with the quantity. He's 13-for-14, with a breakthrough first win at the Honda Classic followed by solo third at Bay Hill thrusting him up to 1st in the FedExCup standings. And, remember, he's still just 22 years old.

Grade so far: A- 

 

Sungjae Im 2020 quotes

Honda Classic (on the benefit of playing in the Presidents Cup and how it helped him win at PGA National): "Playing for Captain Ernie for the Presidents Cup this year was a huge experience. I had a lot of fun (joint-top scorer for the Internationals with a 3-1-1 record), and just we were all in the mindset of the international squad trying to win. Everybody wanted to win. Just comparing today's pressure to that pressure, I felt a little less nervous than I did during the Presidents Cup, so experiences like that have really helped me and will help me moving forward."

Honda Classic (on being one of the most active golfers on the PGA TOUR): "I'm just so happy to be on the PGA TOUR and just to play golf, and it's almost, I don't really look at it as work, it's more of a chance to just go out and do what I love and play golf. As far as difficulty-wise, it's not very hard because I'm doing what I want to do. So that's kind of how I feel right now."

Honda Classic (on deliberate swing action): “Up until three or four years ago, my backswing speed was the same as the average player out here, but I wanted to experiment and just kind of find out what really worked for me, and was just doing a drill of slowing down the backswing, and it really helped. I felt like I could hit the ball where I wanted to and just got better contact in general, and now I feel like my backswing is getting slower and slower as time goes, but it's what works for me, and I'm happy with it."

 

THE MAJORS (most recent result on the left)

The Masters: -

Im has never teed it up at The Masters and was asked about it in March. "So having played in every major, obviously the Masters was the only one that I've been missing. Just really looking forward to going to Augusta, and right now obviously playing four rounds is the goal, and having performed well in major championships before, I just want to add the Masters to my belt, and I'm super excited."

PGA Championship: MC-42

If you like good omens, Im's Korean compatriot YE Yang won the 2009 Honda Classic before going on to win the PGA later in the year, famously taking down Tiger Woods in Sunday's closer. Talking about Yang's victory at the Honda, Im said: "I'm very well aware of his victory here, and I know him a decent amount. We're from the same place back home and have exchanged words with him in the past. I would say we're on pretty good terms of knowing one another." Im has played in this event twice, finishing T42 at Bellerive in 2018 (71-67-71-68) but missing the cut at Bethpage last year (71-74). TPC Harding Park hosts this time and Im has three previous top 12s from nine starts in California with a best of fourth at the 2018 Safeway Open.

U.S. Open: DNP-MC

Im didn't qualify for Pebble Beach last year but did contest the 2018 edition at Shinnecock. It didn't go to plan though, the man from Jeju Island shooting 76-73 and missing the cut. He's not played this year's venue, Winged Foot, but despite those MCs at other New York venues, Bethpage and Shinnecock, he did post a top ten in the Big Apple when T8 in the Korn Ferry Tour's LECOM Health Challenge in 2018. He's also made one start in New Jersey, taking T36 in last August's Northern Trust (67-68-76-68).

Open Championship: MC

Despite his quotes above that he's "performed well in major championships before", Im also missed the cut on his Open debut. That gives him a record in the majors so far of three missed cuts and a T42. That's not a great bottom line but at least his mindset is positive and T11 and T29 in his only two WGC starts and his impressive Presidents Cup debut prove he can play well in elite company. On his first crack at the Open Championship at Royal Portrush he started well enough with an opening 71 but then ballooned to an 80 in round two. He plays well in the wind so, in theory, this event could suit him although it might take him a while to work it all out.

Dave Tindall
Dave Tindall is former golf editor at Sky Sports.com in the UK and has been writing betting previews for the European Tour since 1997. He can be reached via e-mail on tindall_david@hotmail.com and on Twitter @davetindallgolf.