AUGUSTA, Ga. — With all eyes on Tiger Woods, Sungjae Im quietly turned in the round of the working day at Augusta Countrywide.
Not a shock, really.
The 24-calendar year-old South Korean feels proper at property.
A runner-up 17 months back in his Masters debut, Im posted a 5-beneath-par 67 on Thursday to get the guide all to himself.
Continue to a prolonged way to go, but there is definitely a thing about this training course that suits Im’s game.
“I truly feel comfy when I appear to Augusta,” he explained through his translator. “I come to feel I can play nicely right here each and every time.”
It need to run in the household.
All through the par 3 contest Wednesday, Jitaek Im served as his son’s caddie. At the last gap, Sungjae enable his father get the tee shot.
Jitaek sent a wild swing, virtually like he was seeking to slug a baseball, but the ball soared over the water and settled about about 5 feet from the flag.
“I didn’t assume a great deal,” Sungjae stated. “But at the time he hit the shot, it was the most attractive shot I’ve observed. It was like a expert shot.”
Im strike a lot of beautiful pictures when it definitely counted.
He acquired off to a blazing get started, producing birdies at the first a few holes. A further birdie at No. 7 sent him to the back aspect at 4-under.
Im stumbled a little bit immediately after the convert, making back-to-back bogeys at 10 and 11, but then he shipped his best shot of the working day at the par-5 No. 13. From 222 yards, he trapped it 12 feet from the flag and rolled in the putt for eagle.
One more birdie at the 15th and a excellent save from the bunker at the ultimate gap — he just about holed out with his sand wedge and tapped it for par — gave him a 1-stroke guide over Cameron Smith, with Dustin Johnson element of the team two photographs back at 69.
If that seems common, it need to.
In 2020, Johnson received his 1st green jacket with a dominating overall performance, and Smith and Im ended up five photographs again in the runner-up slot at the initial November Masters.
“There is a coincidence there,” Im said. “It’s fairly cool to see that we’re all up there alongside one another.”
Im missed the slice at the 2021 Masters with rounds of 77 and 80 and arrived at this year’s tournament battling a little bit with his video game — specifically off the tee.
“I felt like my driving activity was not as up to par as what it employed to be, so I labored on my driving,” Im explained. “The vital to a thriving round was having superior tee shots, so that labored nicely these days.”
Certainly, he was a single of the day’s most exact drivers, hitting 12 of 14 fairways. Only five players rated previously mentioned him.
Im mentioned it’s essential “to put the shot into places wherever I have a likelihood to attack the green.”
A year back, Hideki Matsuyama turned the to start with golfer from Japan to gain the Masters.
Im does not want to get ahead of himself, but he is familiar with no South Korean golfer has won at Augusta.
In point, Y.E, Yang continues to be the only male golfer from Im’s region to capture a important title, memorably rallying to beat Woods at the 2009 PGA Championship.
Woods, who is taking part in for the 1st time because a February 2021 wreck still left him with really serious leg injuries, was 4 shots powering Im after capturing 71.
Wood’s comeback is what most patrons will try to remember from Day 1 of the Masters.
It’s possible by Sunday evening, they’ll be targeted on Im.
“We’re only 1 working day in,” he explained. “I’ve acquired a few a lot more days to enjoy. I just want to retain this momentum likely and attempt to finish very well this week.”