Mission Im-possible: The Swamp

Sungjae is who we thought he was, Golf Channel eyes the chilly uplands, and Zinger zings the Euros


Happy March, folks! The start of spring kicked off with an exciting finish at the Honda Classic while the Finnish took over the Oman Open. Bet you didn’t think your day would start with a Finland pun, did ya?

In today’s newsletter… 

  • With his win at the Honda Classic, Sungjae Im validates The Fried Egg newsletter’s weekly updates on his astounding consistency.
  • Golf Channel tells employees that it plans to move its headquarters from Florida to Connecticut.

The Storylines

Let’s save some “Im” puns for the future

Sungjae Im is a PGA Tour winner. We always knew we would write that sentence. The 21-year-old Korean phenom shot a final-round 66 to win the Honda Classic by one yesterday, birdieing Nos. 15 and 17 at PGA National to close it out. Results

Im has been one of the busiest and most consistent golfers on the planet over the last three years. At 19 years old, he not only topped the Web.com Tour money list but nearly doubled the runner-up’s earnings. He was the sole rookie to make the Tour Championship last season, and he’s now 25th in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Despite all of his success, Sungjae Im may be the fifth most talked about of the PGA Tour’s current Brat Pack. Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland, Matthew Wolff, and Joaquín Niemann have all won in the last year, diverting attention from Sungjae’s steady stream of top 10s and 20s. Perhaps this win will bring his talent the acclaim it deserves.

“Geographic consolidation”

It sounds like Golf Channel is on the move. No Laying Up broke the news on Friday that the Orlando-based operation is heading to Stamford, Connecticut, in the next 12 months. In a statement, a Golf Channel spokesperson said, “Geographic consolidation is a growing and sensible trend across the media industry, and as our business continues to evolve, we’ll continue to look for ways to operate as effectively as possible.”

Sorry, did your eyes glaze over for a second there? Welcome back. This is sheer speculation, but it wouldn’t be surprising if NBC were trying to save money ahead of the new PGA Tour TV deal. The Tour is looking for a big payday from broadcast partners, and the cost has to be borne somewhere. No further details have emerged, but let’s hope the move doesn’t set off a brain drain at Golf Channel.

The Roundup

Honda Classic—other notes

  • Needing birdie to tie Im, both Mackenzie Hughes and Tommy Fleetwood hit less-than-ideal approaches on the 72nd hole. Still, for Hughes, a runner-up is a welcome change; he has missed nine cuts in the 2019-20 season. Fleetwood’s solo third is his fourth top three in his past six worldwide starts.
  • Ben An continued his solid play with a T-4 at PGA National. An now has five top 10s on the season.
  • Daniel Berger birdied three of his final four holes to earn his third straight top 10. Last summer, Berger suffered a thumb injury, and he took four months off to recover. But now, DB straight vibin’.

Sungjae Im wasn’t the only young gun to win a pro tournament on Sunday. Sami Valimaki, a 21-year-old Finland native, beat Brandon Stone in a playoff to win the Oman Open on the European Tour. Valimaki holed this 20-foot putt on the 72nd hole to force the playoff just minutes after Stone made this bomb from off the green to take the clubhouse lead. Another fun finish!

David Kocher defeated Paul Barjon and Chad Ramey in a playoff to win the Korn Ferry Tour’s El Bosque Mexico Championship. Dylan Wu notched his fifth top 20 of the season, while Mito Pereira garnered his third top five to move into the top spot on the KFT’s point list. Results

Bernhard Langer won the Cologuard Classic this weekend because of course he did. Langer now has 41 PGA Tour Champions wins, including eight in his 60s. Results

On Sunday’s Honda Classic telecast, Paul Azinger had some curious thoughts about the résumés of Tommy Fleetwood and Lee Westwood and about how meaningful their European Tour wins are. A lot of European fans and journalists were peeved, and a lot of American fans were peeved at them for being peeved. (Our own Garrett Morrison, American, entered the fray with a pro-Euro stance. He is currently in hiding.)

David Feherty did not mince words about Patrick Reed during a recent Sports Illustrated interview: “I’m not even sure that he’s polarizing. I’m not sure there’s too many people on the other side, you know what I mean? I mean, ‘there is no God’ was the first thing I said after he’d won last week.”

Apparently the U.S. Open needed a slogan? The USGA announced on Saturday that their new “brand platform” is “From Many, One.” No, seriously, that’s what it is. As Geoff Shackelford notes, “Live Under Par” now has some competition for dumbest rebranding effort in competitive golf.

PGA Tour dot com’s Sean Martin and Golf Channel’s Arron Oberholser have launched The Center Cut Golf Podcast with an introductory episode. These two insightful voices should stand out in the crowded golf-pod landscape.

Mike Trout appears to be both a Topgolf menace and a golf media aggregator’s wet dream.

The Must-Sees of Public Golf Architecture in America

For more about this ongoing list, check out its home on our website and this reader-made map of our picks so far.

Kankakee Elks Country Club (St. Anne, Illinois)


Most golf course architects worth their salt have heard of Kankakee Elks, and many have gone far out of their way to see it. Why? It’s one of the most enticing restoration opportunities left in the United States. Just over an hour south of downtown Chicago, Kankakee boasts the best set of Langford & Moreau greens I’ve seen. While a fraction of their original size, they still have elegant, strategic internal contours. Tree removal and restoration of mowing lines would turn Kankakee Elks into one of the top five courses in Illinois, and its greens could challenge those of Chicago Golf Club for best in state. Even as it stands today, however, Kankakee will blow your mind.

Insider tip: This is a fantastic spring and fall course for Chicagoland residents. When it’s in the 50s in Chicago, it’s often in the 60s in St. Anne. -Andy Johnson

Photo credit: Andy Johnson

The Latest from The Fried Egg

The Shotgun Start: Sungjae takes dead aim, Azinger hates Europe, Bernie Anchor wins dump-in-a-box

This is March. It’s a new month and our first episode of the month goes into the Sunday shenanigans at the Honda Classic. We praise the extremely aggressive approach of Sungjae Im that paid off at a PGA National that did not yield many mid-60s rounds. Im continues his climb up the world rankings and will almost certainly be at the Olympics, where he can play his way out of military service. Also from the Honda, we discuss Paul Azinger really twisting the knife on the European Tour and the significance of winning anywhere but the PGA Tour. Mac Hughes’s hard tug left and Tommy Fleetwood’s balloon ball into the drink provide another referendum and disagreement on protracer. The logic of the Bear Trap name is questioned by Brendan while Andy is apoplectic about someone on TV calling it “the best three-hole stretch in all of golf.” Ads with an anthropomorphic Cologuard box provide a natural segue into Bernhard Langer’s win in Tucson. Are we fully appreciating what he’s done in a Champions Tour career that’s longer than most would dream of on any Tour? In news, we discuss the USGA’s new brand campaign for the U.S. Open as well as David Feherty not holding back when asked about the “oblivious” Patrick Reed. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.

Pro Shop

Sungjae Im looked as comfortable as could be during the back nine on Sunday. Almost as comfortable as our Fried Egg t-shirts! Grab yours in grey or blue today!