AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — With all eyes on Tiger Woods, Sungjae Im quietly turned in the spherical of the working day at Augusta National.
Not a surprise, seriously.
The 24-calendar year-aged South Korean feels proper at household.
A runner-up 17 months back in his Masters debut, Im posted a 5-less than 67 Thursday to get the lead all to himself.
Nonetheless a prolonged way to go, but there’s obviously a little something about this class that suits Im’s match.
“I sense at ease when I occur to Augusta,” he said by means of his translator. “I come to feel I can engage in well in this article each and every time.”
It should run in the relatives.
In the course of the par 3 contest on Wednesday, Jitaek Im served as his son’s caddie. At the final hole, Sungjae enable his dad consider the tee shot.
Jitaek sent a wild swing, nearly like he was seeking to slug a baseball, but the ball soared over the h2o and settled about about 5 ft from the flag.
“I failed to hope a lot,” Sungjae stated. “But at the time he strike the shot, it was the most gorgeous shot I have found. It was like a professional shot.”
Im hit a lot of lovely pictures when it truly counted.
He obtained off to a blazing start, producing birdies at the initially three holes. A different birdie at No. 7 despatched him to the again side at 4 below.
Im stumbled a bit following the turn, earning back again-to-again bogeys at 10 and 11, but then he delivered his greatest shot of the day at the par-5 No. 13. From 222 yards, he caught it 12 ft from the flag and rolled in the putt for eagle.
Another birdie at the 15th and a fantastic help you save from the bunker at the remaining gap — he just about holed out with his sand wedge and tapped it for par — gave him a a single-stroke direct around Cameron Smith, with Dustin Johnson section of the group two pictures back again at 69.
If that seems acquainted, it need to.
In 2020, Johnson gained his first environmentally friendly jacket with a dominating overall performance, even though Smith and Im have been five pictures back again in the runner-up slot at the very first November Masters.
“There is a coincidence there,” Im explained. “It’s rather neat to see that we’re all up there with each other.”
Im missed the reduce at the 2021 Masters with rounds of 77 and 80, and arrived at this year’s event having difficulties a little bit with his sport — primarily off the tee.
“I felt like my driving match was not as up to par as what it utilised to be, so I worked on my driving,” Im said. “The crucial to a profitable round was getting excellent tee shots, so that labored very well nowadays.”
Indeed, he was a single of the day’s most precise motorists, hitting 12 of 14 fairways. Only five players ranked over him.
Im said it is important “to place the shot into spots where I have a possibility to attack the green.”
A yr in the past, Hideki Matsuyama turned the 1st golfer from Japan to gain the Masters.
Im would not want to get forward of himself, but he is aware of that no South Korean golfer has at any time received at Augusta.
In simple fact, Y.E, Yang stays the only male golfer from Im’s nation to capture a important title, memorably rallying to beat Woods at the 2009 PGA Championship.
Woods, who is actively playing for the initial time because a February 2021 wreck still left him with significant leg accidents, was four photographs behind Im soon after shooting 71.
Wood’s comeback is what most patrons will don’t forget from Working day 1 of the Masters.
Possibly by Sunday evening, they are going to be concentrated on Im.
“We’re only just one day in,” he said. “I’ve bought three more days to play. I just want to preserve this momentum going and consider to complete very well this week.”
Comply with Paul Newberry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963
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