Korea’s Sungjae Im brilliantly got to within three strokes of the lead at the season-finale TOUR Championship on Saturday when dangerous weather forced the suspension of play, with leader Scottie Scheffler remaining in pole position to win the FedExCup.
A superb stretch of four holes from the fifth where he mixed an eagle and three birdies at East Lake Golf Club saw Im narrow the gap on World No. 1 Scheffler from an overnight seven-shot deficit.
The 24-year-old Korean star stands on 16-under thru 14 holes of the third round while Scheffler, who was even par through 12 holes when play was halted, leads on 19-under. Xander Schauffele, a former winner at East Lake, is one back in second place after negotiating 12 holes in 1-under as the FedExCup Playoffs heads into the last day.
The third round will resume at 9.45am Sunday, followed by the final round.
Im, a two-time PGA TOUR winner, is seeking to become the first Asian golfer to win the prestigious FedExCup in what is his fourth straight appearance in the TOUR Championship, which is limited to the top-30 players. Countryman K.J. Choi’s fourth place finish in the inaugural FedExCup in 2007 remains the best finish by an Asian.
He began the week six back of Scheffler in the staggered-start format based on FedExCup rankings but some wonderful golf on Saturday put him within striking reach. He rolled in a nine-foot birdie on the fifth to start his hot run, followed by a 12-foot eagle conversation on the par 5 6th hole, which he also eagled on Friday.
He then knocked in putts of 12 feet and six feet over the next two holes before dropping his first bogey on 14 after missing the fairway.
Rory McIlroy, a two-time FedExCup winner, is fourth on 15-under through 16 holes of his third round while defending FedExCup champion Patrick Cantlay, Jon Rahm, Sepp Straka and Justin Thomas all stood at 14-under, which promises a thrilling conclusion to the PGA TOUR’s 2021-22 Season.
Scheffler knows he has a fight on his hands Sunday. “I was feeling all right. I wasn’t playing my best, but I was kind of hanging in there. I was looking forward to giving myself some opportunities at the end, but then the horn went off,” said the 26-year-old, who entered the week as the No. 1 seed following four wins this season.
“I was kind of trying to stay in my own little world. Still with a 72-hole event I think it’s still pretty early in the tournament, and right now I think we’re all just kind of jockeying for position and I was just out there trying to hit some quality shots, so it doesn’t do me too well to be paying attention to what other people do.”