Sunday, February 25, 2024
SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA – FEBRUARY 12: Sungjae Im of Korea putts on the ninth green during the final round of the WM Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale on February 12, 2023 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Korea’s Sungjae Im posted his third top-10 finish of the season with a tie for sixth place at the WM Phoenix Open on Sunday as Scottie Scheffler successfully defended his title and reclaimed the World No. 1 ranking at TPC Scottsdale.

The 24-year-old Im closed with a 2-under 69 after mixing four birdies against two bogeys for an 11-under 273 total in the US$20 million PGA TOUR showpiece, finishing eight shots back of Scheffler who fired a closing 65 to pip Nick Taylor (65) by two strokes. Jon Rahm carded a 68 to finish solo third and five back of Scheffler.

Im moved up to 27th position in the FedExCup points list with his strong finish and also picked up a cheque of US$652,500 in the designated event, which was offering a prize fund of US$20 million.

“It was a good finish with a top-10 result. It’s a bit of a shame I bogeyed the last but we have another big event (The Genesis Invitational) coming up next week, so I will focus on that,” said Im, who is a two-time PGA TOUR winner.

Starting the final round four back of Scheffler, the Korean star got off to a flying start with two birdies in the opening three holes. However he could not make further headway as he parred the next nine holes before dropping his first bogey on the 13th after hitting his ball out of bounds. Im bounced back with birdies from 38 feet and 29 feet on the 16th and 17th holes respectively but dropped his second bogey of the day on the last.

He was pleased with his current form which saw him finish tied fourth at the Farmers Insurance Open two weeks ago.

“We had a strong field this week, so I guess a lot of fans must have enjoyed it. I’m really proud of my top 10 as I was competing against many strong competitors. It has boosted my confidence ahead of next week. I hope to show my best game once more, where the set-up and conditions will be different,” said Im.

Scheffler hit one eagle and four birdies to claim his fifth PGA TOUR victory over a gritty Taylor. The win allowed the 26-year-old American to unseat Rory McIlroy from the top spot of the Official World Golf Ranking, and also saw him net a winner’s cheque of US$3.6 million.

“I knew going into today it was going to be a tough day. Jon’s playing some of the best golf in the world right now. Nick’s a fantastic player and a proven winner out here. There were some other names on the leaderboard like Jordan (Spieth) and Xander (Schauffele). There were a lot of guys up there. I knew it was going to take a great round. Nobody was going to give this golf tournament to me. I had to go out and earn it. I was definitely proud of the result.

“It’s definitely good to get a first win of the year. I hadn’t won since the Masters (last April),” said Scheffler, who became only the seventh player to successfully defend the WM Phoenix Open title and the third player to do so this season.

Si Woo Kim, Hideki Matsuyama and K. H Lee all shot 70s to finish T23, T29 and T42 while Tom Kim closed with a 73 to settle for T50.

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