Korea’s Sungjae Im walked away from the FedExCup Playoffs Finale, the TOUR Championship, with a tinge of disappointment after a closing 70 saw him conclude the 2019-20 PGA TOUR Season in 11th place on Monday.
The 22-year-old rising star from Asia was within touching reach of the PGA TOUR’s Ultimate Prize at East Lake Golf Club as he stood just one stroke from the lead after two rounds.
However, he could not sustain his push for glory, with a third round 72 dropping him out of contention before signing off with six birdies, four bogeys and one double bogey in the season-ending tournament.
There was, however, a small measure of consolation where he emerged as the leading Asian golfer in the final FedExCup standings as Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, who has held the honour for six straight seasons since 2014, settled for tied 15th position with a closing round of 70.
American Dustin Johnson claimed his first FedExCup victory and a handsome US$15 million bonus which comes with being the season-long champion.
A final round 68 gave Johnson a three-shot victory over Justin Thomas and Xander Schauffele.
Im claimed a maiden PGA TOUR victory at The Honda Classic earlier in the season and posted six other top-10s, including a solo third at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard which propelled him to the top of the FedExCup points list in March before the season was abruptly suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
When he returned to action in June, the straight-shooting Korean produced only two more top-10s and missed four cuts which ultimately derailed his hopes of becoming the first Asian to lift the FedExCup.
“I was off to a great start, but not the rounds I wanted the last few days. I would have liked to finish inside the top 10, and I’m definitely a little disappointed.
“I’m looking forward to the new season and I’ll keep preparing and practicing,” said Im, who earned US$750,000 bonus for his finish and took his season’s haul to slightly over US$5 million.
It is often forgotten that Im is featuring in only his second season on the PGA TOUR after being named Rookie of the Year in 2019, which he capped the year with a stellar debut at the Presidents Cup in Australia.
He won 3.5 points as the International Team narrowly lost to a United States Team captained by Tiger Woods.
The Korean will enjoy a short break this week before restarting his engine for the new 2020-21 Season. The brief respite will allow Im to reassess his goals as he continues to establish himself as one of the leading international players on the PGA TOUR.
“This was my second TOUR Championship and I did feel a lot of pressure and nerves. The experience was valuable and it will definitely help me contend in future events. I learned a lot from this week,” he said.
Matsuyama traded four bogeys against as many birdies, including two over his closing three holes to settle for a share of 15th place. It was his 15th top-25 finish of the season which also included five top-10s.