Korean star Sungjae Im secured a timely boost ahead of the U.S. Open after notching his sixth top-10 of the season at the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday on Sunday as American Billy Horschel cruised to a comfortable four-stroke victory.
The 24-year-old Im concluded his campaign at Muirfield Village with a solid 3-under 69 to finish tied 10th, jumping 25 rungs from his overnight position to end the week on 4-under 284, nine shots back of Horschel who lifted his seventh PGA TOUR title.
Ranked inside the top-15 for Driving Accuracy and Greens in Regulation for the week, Im proved his game was in tip-top shape despite a month-long break from competition after contracting Covid-19 while in Korea for a domestic tournament last month. It also forced him to miss the PGA Championship, the year’s second major, but with another tied 15th finish in the previous week’s Charles Schwab Challenge under his belt, Im is excited ahead of the U.S. Open which begins June 16.
“I feel great now,” said Im. “I didn’t play for four weeks, but I (also) finished T15 last week, so I feel good.”
The highlight of his final day was a superb birdie putt from 35 feet at the par-4, 10th hole. In all, Im recorded five birdies, including two over the last three holes, against two bogeys at the Jack Nicklaus-hosted Memorial Tournament, which is one of three elevated events on the PGA TOUR with a US$12 million prize purse.
“First of all, I kept fairways on most holes, that was good. And I hit some good irons, and that helped me get good chances,” said Im, who missed his last two cuts at Muirfield Village and finished tied 57th in his debut in 2019.
“But it is little disappointed that I didn’t make more birdies even though I had many chances. I think that I played well on a difficult course.” With one victory to his name this season, Im is projected to rise two spots to 14th on the FedExCup standings and will also consolidate his position on the International Team ranking for the Presidents Cup later this year after starting the week in third place.
Compatriot Si Woo Kim, the 2017 PLAYERS Championship winner, produced a superb comeback to emerge as Asia's next best finisher in tied 13th place. After bogeying the first and eighth holes, he responded brilliantly with birdies at the 11th, 13th and 15th holes to sign for a third successive 71. C.T. Pan of Chinese Taipei closed with a 74 for T53 alongside another Korean K.H Lee, the first-round co-leader, who signed off with a disappointing 82.
Leading by five overnight, Horschel shut the door on his rivals with a lengthy eagle putt on the 15th hole which allowed him to enjoy the walk up the 18th green where his family awaited to celebrate his first win of the season. The American star closed with an even par 72 and moves up to 10th in the FedExCup standings. He also earned US$2.16 million for his largest pay day of his career.
“Just like you, big man,” Horschel said to tournament host Nicklaus after the round. I think today, knowing the golf course, knowing how it was going to be fast and firm again, it was knowing the pin locations. I didn't have to do anything special out there. I've got a five-shot lead. I played great the last two days. I've just got to go out there and continue to execute golf shots and try not to do anything special, trynot to do anything stupid that would allow guys to sort of come back into the fold. I felt I played a really great round of golf today. Nothing special,” he added.
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