Last season’s Rookie of the Year, Sungjae Im, fulfilled that promise when claiming his first PGA TOUR victory with a dramatic success in the Honda Classic at PGA National.
South Korean talent Sungjae Im, just 21 years old, produced a tournament-winning final round 66 with his stunning closing four-under-par performance earning a one-shot victory over Canada’s Mackenzie Hughes.
The pair both shot four-under rounds to finish on six-under and five-under respectively, and it proved to be a rare sight on a tough final day as the leaders faltered and fell by the way side.
None more so than Tommy Fleetwood, the overnight leader heading into to Sunday’s fourth round. The Englishman extended a one-shot lead to three after two birdies to start but then dropped three shots mid-round.
A 25-foot birdie on the 17th meant he needed to repeat the trick on the closing par-5 18th, but instead he dumped his ball in the water attempting to reach the green in two. He ultimately signed for a bogey and finished in third place.
Sungjae Im wins
It meant victory was Sungjae Im’s and, speaking through an interpreter, he said: “I’ve been in this spot many times and just gaining the experience throughout the weeks and that really helped me stay in the moment.
“Those experiences really helped, especially coming down the last few holes and I pulled out the win,” Sungjae Im continued.
“I knew I was one back going into the last four and just wanted to get a little bit more aggressive rather than be tentative on those holes. I was hitting the ball really good and felt that I could get at those pins.”
Fleetwood said: “You live or die by the shots you hit. I had a chance on the last. The swing wasn’t there all day and I had a few iffy shots in me. I didn’t get anything out of the round until 17. It was such a great moment, I felt great walking to the last and hit a great tee shot.
“It was a hard number (for the second shot), I had to hit a massive cut with a five wood and came out of it and that was that. It’s golf, I’m upset but I’m fine.”
There was also a maiden European Tour winner as Sami Valimaki won the Oman Open title after defeating Brandon Stone in a play-off at Al Mouj Golf Club.
Finland’s Valimaki, who sunk a 20-foot birdie on the final hole, and South African Stone finished the week on 13-under par, one clear of Frenchman Adrien Saddier. It took three extra holes to split the pair before Valimaki eventually won the play-off.
The due traded pars in the first two play-off holes before Stone was unable to get up and down from near the 18th green grandstand and his bogey handed victory to Valimaki with a par.
“It’s awesome. There are not many words to say, it’s unbelievable,” said Valimaki, who was undertaking national service in the Finnish army 18 months ago before concentrating on his professional golf career.
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