Aug 19, 2019: Korean rookie Sungjae Im was ecstatic after successfully qualifying for the PGA TOUR’s FedExCup Playoffs Finale, the TOUR Championship next week, after finishing T11 at the BMW Championship on Sunday.
The 21-year-old fired a bogey-free 5-under 67 at Medinah Country Club’s No. 3 Course for a 13-under 275 total to finish 12 shots behind winner Justin Thomas, who won by three for his 10th PGA TOUR victory.
Im will be joined in Atlanta by Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, who shot his second 63 of the week to take third place but Korean compatriots Byeong Hun An, Si Woo Kim and Sung Kang saw their season ending after finishing T28, T28 and T63 respectively on Sunday.
He started the final day strongly with long range birdies efforts on the third and fourth holes before chipping in for an eagle on the par 5 seventh hole. Another birdie from six feet on 10 ensured he safely qualified for the TOUR Championship, exclusive to the top-30 players on the FedExCup points list, in 24th position. The FedExCup champion will win US$15 million.
“I made some early birdies, it was a good start,” said Im. “It relieved me of some pressure and helped me perform well for the rest of the day.”
Im is also in prime position to become the first Asian golfer to win Rookie of the Year honours as he is the only rookie to qualify for the TOUR Championship. However, the Korean rising star is keen to keep producing strong performances to convince International Team captain Ernie Els to pick him as one of four captain’s picks for the Presidents Cup in December after Im missed out on the top-8 automatic selection when the qualifying race concluded at the BMW Championship.
“It’s going to be an honour if I can win Rookie of the Year, the first Asian and Korean player to win the award,” said Im, who was the Korn Ferry Tour No. 1 and Player of the Year last season.
“I’m really happy to qualify for the TOUR Championship. My goal this season was to get to Atlanta. I’m also considering setting up base in Atlanta as it’s a nice place with lots of Korean restaurants.”
“I’m going to play in some of early events in the new 2019-20 PGA TOUR Season before going back to play in Korea (CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES). If I get picked for the Presidents Cup, that’s going to be an honour too and if Ernie picks me, I’ll do my best to beat the American team.”