Believe it or not, we’re all the way to the third tournament of the PGA Tour season and Sungjae Im is just now making his 2022-23 debut. Can you believe it?
The young South Korean star is still a workhorse playing in as many events as anybody, but he’s learned to dial it back a bit.
Im has a lot of reason to want to be here in Las Vegas this week. He’s the defending Shriners Children’s Open champion after recording rounds of 63-65-70-62 to run away with a four-shot victory over Matthew Wolff. His 24-under winning total was one off the tournament record set in 2008 by Marc Turnesa in the event’s first year at TPC Summerlin.
Im was absolutely in the zone in the final round. He made a quintet of consecutive birdies and, despite losing ground off the tee, he made up for it by gaining 2.894 strokes putting on Sunday and 5.513 for the week to rank ninth.
“To be honest with you, I didn’t even know that I birdied five holes in a row,” Im was transcribed by ASAP Sports in 2021. “I was just constantly focused each and every single hole to get through it without a mistake.”
Im is coming off a career season that saw him tie for second place in the FedEx Cup. The 24-year-old didn’t win again after Las Vegas, but he tallied eight more top-10s, including back-to-back T-2nd finishes at the 3M Open and Wyndham Championship.
It took phenomenal final rounds by two of the hottest players in golf, Tony Finau and Tom Kim, to pull past Im.
He ranked 45th or better in every SG stat last season. Im was sixth in total SG per round (1.668) and was top-10 off the tee and tee to green.
Im’s other two results at the Shriners Children’s Open were T-15th (72-65-69-65) in 2018 and T-13th (67-63-69-68) in 2020.
Im and the International side at the Presidents Cup had the deck stacked against them, talent-wise. Im made pretty good lemonade out of lemons, finishing with a 2-2-1 record and a Sunday singles win by one PGA Tour Rookie of the Year winner over the expected next winner, Cameron Young.