Golf: Japanese Matsuyama and Korean Im Set the Bar High by Watching Top of Golf, Golf News & Top Stories


The similarity of their golf swings is quite strange. One has a deliberate takeout that feigns slow motion on video, while the other has an extended break atop the backswing that has become a popular social media meme.

It can sometimes seem like forever for everyone to take a golf shot, but when they do end up pulling the trigger, South Koreans Im Sung-jae and Hideki Matsuyama of Japan certainly have the ability to produce an image of power mixed with precision as they chase greatness on the PGA Tour.

Matsuyama, 29, and Im, 23, have maintained a solid hold as the leading duo from Asia where their unique styles have cemented their status as the top-ranked Asians in the world rankings, 12th and 23rd respectively. the only two East Asian golfers to advance to the FedExCup Playoffs final, the Tour Championship, in the past three seasons.

Over the past month, Im and Matsuyama have taken elegant victories to remind the golfing world of their immense talent and potential, with the young Korean, dubbed Ironman, shooting a 62nd final round to claim a second Tour victory at the Shriners Children’s Open. in Vegas and Matsuyama winning the Zozo Championship at home after a final 65 for his seventh career title. It was the icing on the cake after his historic Masters Tournament victory in April.

While there is no doubt that the dynamic duo will rack up many more PGA Tour victories in the years to come and surpass the eight wins for KJ Choi, who is the highest by an Asian to date, the question is now to find out who will become the first Asian to claim the ultimate Tour prize, FedExCup, and also move up to number one in the standings.

Trevor Immelman, the international team captain for the 2022 Presidents Cup, has a great idea of ​​both players and enjoyed a front row seat watching Im blossom into a world class golfer thanks to his role as Assistant Captain at Royal Melbourne in 2019 and as Golf Channel Expert. The astute South African, who was Masters champion in 2008, also saw with his own eyes how Matsuyama triumphed at Augusta National to become the first Asian to don the famous green jacket.

As Im marched to a four-stroke victory in Vegas, Immelman marveled on the show that the rising Korean star, who took over the game at the age of four, had all the tools in his hand. bag to become the best player in the world.

“He has absolutely everything it takes. This guy has everything to be the best in the world,” said Immelman enthusiastically. “One of the best riders on the track, he’s got a lot of distance, the irons look like lasers and his short game is solid. This guy has an amazing future ahead of him and I can’t wait to see how it plays out.”

Over the past year, Im has continued to solidify the fundamentals of his game, including hiring a fitness trainer and moving to a new home in Atlanta with his parents after living in a suitcase during his early days. years in the United States. He also recently hired veteran caddy Billy Spencer and continues to work with longtime swing trainer Hyun Choi, who was responsible for the slow take in his backswing.

Im keeping my feet on the ground despite the approval of her captain. “It’s a very damning comment and I’m very grateful. I feel like I still have a long way to go to be the best player in the world, but I have a goal in mind and I am trying. always keep improving myself every day, so hopefully one day I can become that good player, ”said Im, whose highest world ranking is 16th and holds an 11th place, career best, in the FedExCup ranking in 2020.

Matsuyama’s world rankings peaked in career, second in 2017 – the same year he entered the No.1-ranked FedExCup playoffs before finishing eighth – but he had to endure a winless streak until his victory in Masters. He once again competed in the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational in August before claiming a famous home victory at the Zozo Championship, becoming the first Japanese to win the only domestic event on the PGA Tour.

Interestingly, the often stoic Japanese star gave some insight into how high he sets his own golf bar. In his pre-tournament interview, he told media through a translator that his game fell short of the mark.

“Hitting, putting, chipping, all of that hasn’t reached the level I want. If my game scored 10 out of 10 at the Masters, I would now say it scores less than one,” he said. . “I’m going to have a hard time this week but I’m here in Japan so I’m motivated to be in the running.”

Lo and behold, rounds of 64, 68, 68 and 65 for an incredible five-stroke triumph in front of 5,000 admiring fans assured Matsuyama of enjoying a first home triumph. Asked again about his form after his victory, he replied: “I would say my performance is two or three. From a results standpoint, it has increased to eight, but I think that’s because all the time. energy I was getting from fans As you might have been lucky enough to see me on the driving range my balls were all over the place and not consistent but once on the golf course I was able to feed off the energy a crowd.

“Everyone’s idea of ​​consistency is different from the consistency I pursue.”

Note: Chuah Choo Chiang is Senior Director, Marketing and Communications, Asia Pacific for the PGA Tour and is based in Malaysia.

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