Korean star Sungjae Im is fired up to regain his top form at the Palmetto Championship at Congaree starting on Thursday as he intensifies preparation for another major crack at the US Open next week.
The 23-year-old Im has endured an uncharacteristic run of form with five missed cuts over his last eight starts on the PGA Tour – with two top-20s being his best results – but a first ever visit to the highly-acclaimed Congaree Golf Club in South Carolina this week has given him some good vibes.
“I played nine holes for the first time (Tuesday) and the fairways are generally wider compared to other golf courses. There is not much rough around the greens and I feel comfortable out here. I didn’t find any difficulties on the nine which I played and I think my game will do well here,” said Im, a one-time Tour winner.
Currently ranked 30th on the FedExCup standings, the Korean who is nicknamed Ironman began the new calendar year with a top-five finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and was in the money in 10 successive tournaments with one more top-10 achieved in his title defence of The Honda Classic plus four other top-25s.
After missing the halfway cut at the Masters in April, he inexplicable lost his trademark consistency as he made cuts and missed cuts in alternate weeks. He endured abbreviated appearances in his last two starts at the Charles Schwab Challenge and Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide.
"I didn’t find any difficulties on the nine which I played (at Congaree GC) and I think my game will do well here." – Sungjae Im
With Congareer fitting his eye so far, Im is optimistic he can sparkle against the likes of reigning FedExCup champion Dustin Johnson and four-time major winner Brooks Koepka this week. He is keen to use this week’s test to prepare for the US Open at Torrey Pines next week, a course which he holds a best finish of T32 at the Farmers Insurance Open.
“This season, I made all the cuts in the majors and finished inside the top-25 with the exception of the Masters (in April). At the PGA, the last day’s result wasn’t very good but I was satisfied with the overall score (he finished T17). When I perform well at major events, it gives me confidence to do better in the next major,” Im said.
“Torrey Pines is quite long and requires accuracy which is the most important thing there. If I am able to do that, I might have a chance to stay on top of the leaderboard. I’ve played Torrey Pines over the past three years and I don’t think it fits me that well. The course needs a decent long game but when I’m having a good day, my long iron game will be on target. If everything works wells, I think I can play great.”
Proceeds from the Palmetto Championship will benefit the Congaree Foundation, whose mission is to positively impact the lives of young people locally and around the globe by providing educational and vocational opportunities through the game of golf. The Congaree Global Golf Initiative (CGGI) is the Foundation’s signature program, which provides underserved and well-deserving high school students who aspire to play collegiate golf access to the highest level of athletic coaching and academic tools to enhance their opportunities for success.