Sungjae Im wasn’t aware of how many birdies were being made by him in turning a Las Vegas shootout into an all-out show.
Only when he saw a leaderboard after his big run was over — seven birdies in an eight-hole stretch around the turn Sunday at the TPC Summerlin — did it begin to sink in.
“When I saw that I was leading by five, I said to myself, ‘Let’s not make a mistake and I can get this done,'” he said.
He was done. South Korean-born 23-year-old finished the tournament with four safe pars, a score of 9-under-62, and four wins over Matthew Wolff at Shriners Children’s Open.
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Im stated, “Very meaningful victory.” It was difficult to come, but it felt like a gift from God. “I played well, and it was a great win.
The Shriners Children’s Open’s best close round was achieved by this player since Smylie Kaufman, who shot 61 in 2016, I finished the round at 24-under 265 and tied Webb Simpson’s (2013) tournament record of 260.
Wolff, who was struggling to keep up with the pace, made it a birdie at par-5 nineteen by hitting an 18-foot shot. He was slowing down by two bad tee shots, which led to him bogeyings that he couldn’t afford.
Wolff made a pair of late birdies for a 68 — he’s now 12 for 12 with rounds in the 60s at Summerlin — and had to settle for a runner-up finish.
Im was one of four players to have at least some of the lead in the TPC Summerlin’s front nine on an ideal day with very little wind.
Im had just started when he made a 12 foot birdie on the sixth hole. It was the third most difficult hole on the course.
The front nine was closed by a short up-and down on the par-5 9th to claim the lead. He then added four more birdies on No. 10, when he reached 25 feet from the fairway bunker and putted.
He said, “The lie wasn’t great with my lip in front. But I made it up on green, and that putt for birdie. That kind of gave me tremendous confidence that this can be done.”
Im won for the second time on the PGA Tour, and while he’s not big into numbers, he couldn’t ignore the bizarre trend. In 2020, he won the Honda Classic. This was his 50th start in the PGA Tour. In his 100th start, he won the Las Vegas Honda Classic.
Odds are he won’t have to wait 50 more tournaments for his next trophy.
Following his triumph in the Honda Classic, he took third place at Bay Hill. After that the pandemic forced golf into a three-month hiatus. He didn’t compete again for five months, until he reached the Masters in November.
It is his only hope now that he will find his stride.
I stated that I had been on a great roll after the Honda win. I was also feeling good about myself and I performed well in the Arnold Palmer week thereafter.” But it’s unfortunate. It’s something that I couldn’t control. However, after the pandemic and when I was able to resume golf, it became difficult for me to find my rhythm.
“But, once again, keep your cool and continue to believe in me.”
Rory Sabbatini (the Olympic silver medalist from Slovakia) shot 28 on nine. He was unable to manage even par on his back nine, which was 64.
Wolff couldn’t help but smile.
He said, “This is like when I’m leading or in contention, someone just seems able to take the last day off me.” Bryson de Chambeau shot 67 at Winged Foot in the last round, while Wolff was playing in the U.S. Open final group.
“But if I keep on putting myself in these positions I know that eventually it’s going to be in my favor and I’m going to win,” he said.
Sunday, particularly on the par-5 13, was not that day. His 3-wood was able to clear the bunker on his left. When it failed to clear the bunker on the left, he thought it would roll down to the bottom of sand. He still had a chance at birdie.
Instead, he claimed that somebody had dropped the rake on top of the ball and it came to rest on a slope covered in indentation by the handle. He could only get the ball out about 15 feet. It was difficult to catch Im even with a convincing lie.
Sam Burns is fresh off winning in Mississippi, and was only two back when he started the final round. After making an early birdie, he stalled and lost his momentum until too late. He tied for 14th with a second bogey and a 72.
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