While the eyes of the golf world early today were on the Solheim Cup and the impending Patrick Cantlay–Jon Rahm duel for the Tour Championship/FedEx Cup title, Sungjae Im was quietly making history… of a sort. Starting with the 2020 US Open last September, Im has been golf’s iron man, playing in 35 PGA Tour events (out of a possible 50 during the wraparound “superseason”) and making the cut 29 times. With that many reps, maybe it’s no surprise that he just broke the PGA Tour’s season birdie record with this 22-footer on the second hole at the Tour Championship:
The PGA Tour’s tweet notes that his 494th birdie is the most since 1980, which is the first year they kept records. The record he actually broke belonged to Steve Flesch, who carded 493 in 2000. That year, Flesch played 123 rounds, four fewer than Im completed in the 2020-2021 season. Im was also poised to break the birdies and eagles record:
The caveat here is that the 2020-2021 wraparound season was a long one, and PGA Tour officials confirm that both the US Open and the Masters from late 2020 count for cumulative stats like these; in other words, Im had two US Opens and two Masters to work with (the Olympics, as an unsanctioned event, didn’t count). That said, his 35 total events is only three more than Flesch’s 32 from the record-setting 2000 season.
Im’s jam-packed schedule continues a tradition of Korean golfers playing week in and week out; among the other players to net more than 30 events in 2020-2021 are K.H. Lee and Si Woo Kim. This will be the second year that Im will lead the tour in events played; he tied Brian Stuard with 35 events once today’s round was completed. In 2019, Im’s 35 total starts led all players.
Im made three straight bogeys on holes seven to nine to turn in two-over, but made four birdies on the back nine to finish with a final-round 68. More importantly, it took his final season total for birdies to 498 and his final birdies/eagles total to 513, four more than Flesch in 2000.
PHOTO: Kevin C. Cox