Im feels a connection to Arnold Palmer
March 04, 2020
By Chuah Choo Chiang, PGATOUR.COM
- March 04, 2020
- Sungjae Im spent some time in the office of the late Arnold Palmer at Bay Hill this week. (PGA TOUR)
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Two days after becoming a PGA TOUR champion, Korea’s rising star Sungjae Im enjoyed another thrill of a lifetime.
The 21-year-old, who broke through for his maiden victory at The Honda Classic on Sunday, received a tour Tuesday of Arnold Palmer’s office at Bay Hill Club and Lodge, venue of this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard.
It is a privilege enjoyed by few, but as the 2019 PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year and recipient of the Arnold Palmer Award, Im soaked in the experience of being in the office of the golf legend, who passed away in 2016 at the age of 87.
“I know Arnold Palmer is the legend of golf and a great player in the era,” Im said. “I won the Arnold Palmer Award for Rookie of the Year last year and also had the best finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational here last season. I think I have something connected to Arnold Palmer.”
A year ago, Im arrived in Bay Hill as a name touted for big things after dominating the Korn Ferry Tour in 2018 with two wins, three runner-up finishes and three other top-10s. He was named the Korn Ferry Tour’s Player of the Year.
He started his rookie season on the PGA TOUR with two top-10s in his first 13 starts, and an impressive T3 finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational only cemented his reputation as a player to watch.
With four more top-10s, Im was the only rookie to qualify for the TOUR Championship and he finished 19th on the final FedExCup point list. Later in December, he produced a stand-out performance in his Presidents Cup debut, delivering 3.5 points for the International Team. He posted one of his team’s two match wins in Sunday Singles, defeating Gary Woodland 4 and 3, although the U.S. Team rallied to win by two points.
Im, who does not have a permanent home in the U.S. and travels from hotel to hotel when he is on TOUR, hopes for a second consecutive win this week against a stellar field that includes title holder Francesco Molinari, reigning FedExCup champion Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka and Adam Scott.
“As I won last week, I have a good feeling about my game this week. This course fits well in my eyes. I like tight and tough courses and this course is my type. I’d like to play well at his event,” said Im, currently second on the FedExCup points list behind Justin Thomas.
“It was such an honor to look around his (Palmer’s) office today. I am thankful for what he did and leaving the legacy to us.”
Im reiterated how competing in his first Presidents Cup at The Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia paved the way for his breakthrough win.
“Playing for Captain Ernie (Els) was a huge experience. Everybody wanted to win. I felt a little less nervous (at Honda) than I did during the Presidents Cup, so experiences like that have really helped me,” said Im, who became the fourth International Team member after Marc Leishman, Cameron Smith and Adam Scott to secure victories after the Internationals lost narrowly to the United States Team.