With virus in mind, Korea's Sungjae Im wins Honda Classic

Associated Press

Sungjae Im kisses the trophy after winning the Honda Classic tournament Sunday in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Moments after getting his first career PGA Tour win, Sungjae Im took a moment to reflect on what it means.

Not for himself -- for his homeland, and for those dealing with a virus that has the world on edge.

The 21-year-old South Korean started fast and finished stronger Sunday, winning The Honda Classic by one shot over Mackenzie Hughes and two over Tommy Fleetwood for his first victory in 50 tries on tour. But before he could be whisked back to the course to collect the trophy, Im made sure to speak out about the coronavirus and tell those in South Korea -- where nearly 4,000 cases have been confirmed -- that he was thinking of them.

"Over in Korea right now, I know a lot of people are dealing with the coronavirus," Im said. "And it's kind of a huge deal with everybody. But I'm just glad as a Korean player that I can deliver some good news to the countrymen back home ... to do something for the country and make everybody proud."

Im shot a 4-under 66 on Sunday, finishing at 6 under to match the second-highest winning score since the Honda moved to PGA National in 2007. He was the tour's rookie of the year last season, plus has played more tournaments and more rounds than anyone since the 2018-19 season began nearly a year and a half ago.

And now, he's a winner, picking up $1.26 million this week and becoming the Honda's 10th international champion in the last 16 seasons.

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