Im, Kim, Matsuyama lead Asia's charge in play-offs
published : 11 Aug 2022 at 06:45
newspaper section: Sports
Memphis: The FedEx Cup play-offs begin at the FedEx St Jude Championship today with Asia's magnificent seven, led by South Koreans Im Sung-Jae and Kim Joo-Hyung and Japan's Hideki Matsuyama spearheading the charge to deliver a first ever winner from the region.
Since the FedEx Cup was inaugurated in 2007 as the PGA Tour's season-long prize, the best Asian finish has so far been achieved by South Korean KJ Choi when he came in fourth in the first year.
Japan's Matsuyama, who enters his ninth successive play-offs in 11th position, has a career-best of eighth place in 2017 after he concluded the regular season ranked No.1, while South Korea's Im, making his fourth play-offs in 10th position, had a close brush in 2020 when he entered the weekend at the Tour Championship in second place before eventually finishing 11th.
Other stars from Asia amongst the top-125 stars teeing up at TPC Southwind this week include South Korean duo KH Lee (40th) and Kim Si-Woo (48th), Anirban Lahiri of India (63rd) and Taiwan's CT Pan (92nd).
World No.1 Scottie Scheffler, who has won four tournaments this season including the Masters, will start the play-offs in pole position to win the FedEx Cup and a handsome US$18 million cheque.
"Definitely I'm on a good momentum," said Im, a two-time PGA Tour winner. "I feel great heading into the play-offs."
The top-70 on the FedEx Cup rankings will progress into the BMW Championship at Wilmington Country Club in Delaware next week, before the season-finale Tour Championship featuring an elite 30-man field at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta the following week.
After a dizzying past few weeks where he earned his PGA Tour card and claimed a stunning maiden win at the Wyndham Championship on Sunday to become the second youngest winner since World War II, Kim Joo-Hyung will be looking to extend his dream run.
"I thought I was going to get an off week this week. I'm pumped to be here and it's absolutely incredible," the 20-year-old said on Tuesday.
"I was going to go home [Seoul] for a week ... it's been just travel, travel, travel. So I was kind of looking forward to that, but I mean, I'd rather be here than go home."
Like most golfers of his age, the Korean, also known as Tom Kim, grew up watching Tiger Woods win numerous times on the PGA Tour which provided the motivation and inspiration to chase his own dreams on the world's elite circuit.
"It's always about playing the PGA Tour. When I was younger, I would see Tiger win on the PGA Tour, not somewhere else, so for me that was always the goal," he said.
I felt like when I would one day get really old and not be able to play the game anymore, I would want to at least feel comfortable with retiring and say I played with the best players in the world."