Sungjae Im wins maiden PGA Tour title at the Honda Classic

Im began Saturday’s round three shots behind Tommy Fleetwood but finished strong

 Sungjae Im of South Korea during the fourth round of the Honda Classic in Florida. Photograph: EPA

Sungjae Im of South Korea during the fourth round of the Honda Classic in Florida. Photograph: EPA

 

South Korea’s Sungjae Im claimed his first PGA Tour title in the Honda Classic as overnight leader Tommy Fleetwood had to settle for a tie for third place.

Im carded a closing 66 at PGA National to finish six under par and a shot ahead of Canada’s Mackenzie Hughes, with Fleetwood another stroke back following a final round of 71.

Fleetwood took a one-shot lead into the final round and stretched his lead to three with birdies at the first and second, only to drop shots on the sixth, eighth and 13th to fall two strokes behind.

A birdie from 25 feet on the daunting par-three 17th meant Fleetwood needed another on the par-five 18th to force a play-off, but the Ryder Cup star pushed his approach into the water to the right of the green as a spectator appeared to scream “get in the hole” at the top of his backswing.

“You live or die by the shots you hit,” Fleetwood told Sky Sports. “I had a chance on the last. The swing wasn’t there all day and I had a few iffy shots in me.

“I didn’t get anything out of the round until 17. It was such a great moment, I felt great walking to the last and hit a great tee shot.

“It was a hard number (for the second shot), I had to hit a massive cut with a five wood and came out of it and that was that. It’s golf, I’m upset but I’m fine.

“I had a stretch today where not a lot happened but feel like I’m doing a good job of staying there, I’m getting there more and more often and yeah I’m not winning them all, but coming down the last hole I’ve been there every time and it’s just not happened.”

Im began the day three shots behind Fleetwood but birdied four of the first five holes before dropping a shot on the seventh.

A birdie on the 11th was followed by back-to-back bogeys but the 21-year-old responded superbly to birdie the 15th and 17th and crucially saved par from a greenside bunker on the last.

“I’ve been in this spot many times and just gaining the experience throughout the weeks and that really helped me stay in the moment,” Im told NBC through an interpreter.

“Those experiences really helped, especially coming down the last few holes and I pulled out the win.

“I knew I was one back going into the last four and just wanted to get a little bit more aggressive rather than be tentative on those holes. I was hitting the ball really good and felt that I could get at those pins.”

British Open champion Shane Lowry’s final round was disrupted by a double bogey on the 15th hole, leaving him level par for the day and one over for the tournament.

Final round scores and totals (USA unless stated, par 70)

274 Sungjae Im (Kor) 72 66 70 66

275 Mackenzie Hughes (Can) 71 72 66 66

276 Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 70 68 67 71

277 Brendan Steele 68 67 71 71, Daniel Berger 69 70 69 69, Byeong-Hun An (Kor) 76 66 68 67, Lee Westwood (Eng) 67 69 71 70

278 Russell Henley 70 69 70 69, Gary Woodland 70 67 74 67, Cameron Davis (Aus) 70 67 73 68

279 Wyndham Clark 68 74 71 66, Maverick McNealy 70 69 71 69, Robby Shelton 70 69 70 70, Mark Hubbard 69 71 69 70, Luke Donald (Eng) 70 66 71 72, Brice Garnett 72 69 72 66

280 Richy Werenski 70 68 73 69, Charl Schwartzel (Rsa) 69 69 70 72, Ryan Palmer 70 72 68 70, Harris English 66 74 72 68

281 Kramer Hickok 73 70 69 69, Hudson Swafford 70 69 73 69, Shane Lowry (Irl) 69 69 73 70, Brandon Hagy 70 71 69 71, Jimmy Walker 72 69 70 70, Patrick Rodgers 69 71 72 69

282 Nick Watney 71 66 73 72, Jason Dufner 70 72 68 72, Sepp Straka (Aut) 70 67 74 71, Jamie Lovemark 69 69 73 71, Adam Long 71 68 74 69, Ian Poulter (Eng) 70 70 72 70, Jhonattan Vegas (Ven) 70 71 69 72, Cameron Tringale 67 72 72 71

283 JT Poston 67 69 73 74, Rory Sabbatini (Svk) 71 69 69 74, Aaron Wise 71 70 72 70

284 Talor Gooch 71 69 75 69, Matthew NeSmith 71 72 70 71, Beau Hossler 70 71 71 72, Kyoung-hoon Lee (Kor) 69 71 71 73

285 Bud Cauley 70 72 72 71, Vaughn Taylor 71 71 71 72, Harold Varner III 69 70 76 70, Christopher Baker 70 73 70 72, Billy Horschel 73 67 70 75

286 Kurt Kitayama 70 71 71 74, Danny Lee (Nzl) 70 73 73 70, Matt Jones (Aus) 70 73 72 71, Tom Lewis (Eng) 66 75 71 74, Brian Harman 71 72 74 69, Kevin Streelman 69 70 72 75

287 Grayson Murray 73 68 70 76, Sam Ryder 71 71 75 70, Scott Stallings 70 72 76 69, Stewart Cink 73 69 71 74

288 Michael Thompson 70 73 75 70

289 Matthew Wolff 72 70 72 75, Harry Higgs 72 68 72 77, Dylan Frittelli (Rsa) 74 69 72 74

290 Austin Cook 72 70 76 72, Cameron Percy (Aus) 69 74 74 73, Mark Anderson 71 72 71 76

291 Sam Burns 69 71 76 75, Fabian Gomez (Arg) 72 69 79 71

292 Brian Stuard 67 75 77 73

293 Zach Johnson 67 75 76 75

294 Patton Kizzire 70 72 74 78

297 Hayden Buckley 72 70 80 75

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