If you’re like me, this pairing surprised you. Not that two players from different countries or dialects can’t get together and play well. We see it all the time at the Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup, etc.
The story of how this one came together is pretty amusing.
Golf.com’s Dylan Dethier did some solid reporting to get the story from Keith Mitchell on how he came to join forces with Sungjae Im for the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
The two played together in the third round of the 2019 Honda Classic. Mitchell came away impressed with Im, a 21-year-old at the time who was on his way to PGA Tour Rookie of the Year honors.
Mitchell asked Im afterward if he’d like to pair up for the Zurich, but Im was already committed to play with fellow South Korean, Whee Kim.
After hearing ‘no,’ Mitchell didn’t try again.
Then, this year, he got a text from Im’s agent asking him to play. Mitchell initially was going to use this week to rest, but he couldn’t resist playing with a world-class ball striker like Im.
“A lot of smiling, a lot of fist-bumping, a lot of high-fives, a lot of thumbs ups,” Mitchell told Dethier about how he expects the week to go. “His English has gotten a lot better, and I don’t think we’ll have a problem talking golf. It’s just I don’t think we’ll be sharing recipes and cooking routines.”
Both appear to have pretty affable personalities. Each is solid from tee to green and should give each other plenty of birdie looks.
Mitchell was the talk of the West Coast swing this year for his cashmere sweaters and low rounds. The former Georgia Bulldog took T-4th at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and solo fifth at the Genesis Invitational.
Mitchell hasn’t carried over that success to the Florida and southeastern U.S. portion of the schedule, but that ought to change soon enough on grass types he’s familiar with.
Im has been steady as ever leading in. He took T-7th last week at the RBC Heritage for his fifth straight top-25. He and Byeong-Hun An took T-14th at the 2022 Zurich Classic.
Mitchell and Brandt Snedeker ended up in the top five at the 2021 Zurich but missed the cut last year.