Korean star Sungjae Im shot a sparkling 5-under 65 for tied third place alongside compatriot Tom Kim in the FedEx St. Jude Championship on Friday, two back of in-form leader Lucas Glover in the first of three FedExCup Playoffs events.
On a sweltering day at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Kim fought to a bogey-free 68 to stay in the race alongside Im to deliver Asia’s first ever win in a Playoffs event. Byeong Hun An and Si Woo Kim carded a 68 and 67 respectively and enters the weekend tied 18th, five off the pace.
Glover, who won the Wyndham Championship on Sunday to qualify for the Playoffs, rose to the top of the leaderboard with a 64 while overnight leader Jordan Spieth slipped to solo second following a 68. Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama carded a 69 for T30, leaving with work cut out if he hopes to progress into next week’s BMW Championship which is limited to the top-50 players.
The 25-year-old Im, who has two PGA TOUR victories under his belt, registered six birdies to offset a lone bogey for a two-day total of 8-under-132, propelling him to a five-way tie for third. In contrast, Kim managed only two birdies but was delighted to stay in the hunt on a tough day.
Im, whose round was highlighted by a chip-in birdie on the par-3 eighth, his penultimate hole, was pleased to charge into contention. “Everything went well. The tee shots have been good for two days, and I was able to hit second shots comfortably from the fairway. My approach play has been okay, and if there was anything to be desired, it was a little disappointing I missed a few putts,” said Im, who missed only three fairways.
“I don’t think I’ve played in such hot weather recently, so it was not easy. I was sweating so much on every hole, and I had a hard time concentrating but I think I ended the day well by holding on.”
Since the launch of the FedExCup, no Asian has won a Playoffs event, let alone the TOUR’s ultimate prize. Im finished runner-up at the TOUR Championship last season and was also third in the 2021 BMW Championship. He was pleased to see his countrymen performing well and hopes to have all four Koreans advancing to the Playoffs Finale, the TOUR Championship in East Lake, Atlanta.
“Yes, I saw the leaderboard. Si Woo and Tom are kind of safe for the TOUR Championship, while me and Ben are not. I hope we play well and get into the TOUR Championship together,” he said.
The 21-year-old Kim, who is also a two-time PGA TOUR winner, was happy to grind out a 68. “It was tough. So hot out there, golly. It was so freaking hot,” he said.
“It was just a grind. Just birdies were not going in. They were like stopping right in front of the hole or just…I had a few good looks, a few good chances on the fairway, but didn’t really quite capitalize. Obviously would have liked to shoot 4- or 5-under par. Had a chance for sure, wasn’t to be, but definitely walked away with a bogey-free 2-under par that keeps me in the tournament. For sure I’ll be pleased with it.”
Glover started last week’s Wyndham Championship in 112th position but a fifth TOUR victory propelled him to 49th place. Should he win this week, he will rise to third place heading into the BMW Championship. “I hit it nicely. I hit it in the fairway a bunch and hit a lot of greens, and the ones I missed were a couple on the fringe and then a couple of easy up-and-downs,” said the 2009 U.S. Open champion.
“The golf course is drying out a little bit, and yeah, played nicely, and would have liked to have made that last one, but I didn’t, so here we are.”
Second-Round Notes – Friday, August 11, 2023
Weather: Partly cloudy, hot and humid. High of 94. Wind SW 10-15 mph.
|1||Lucas Glover||66||64||130 (-10)|
|2||Jordan Spieth||63||68||131 (-9)|
|T3||Sungjae Im||67||65||132 (-8)|
|T3||Taylor Moore||66||66||132 (-8)|
|T3||Tommy Fleetwood||66||66||132 (-8)|
|T3||Emiliano Grillo||65||67||132 (-8)|
|T3||Tom Kim||64||68||132 (-8)|